Ragamala Dance Company presents Ashwini Ramaswamy's "Let the Crows Come" at Baryshnikov Arts Center
Ragamala Dance Company
Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) is pleased to present the New York premiere of Minneapolis-based choreographer and dancer Ashwini Ramaswamy's Let the Crows Come, an experimental Bharatanatyam work, and a "Best of Dance 2021" selection by The Washington Post. Performances will take place Wednesday–Friday, April 13–15, at 8pm, at BAC's Jerome Robbins Theater, 450 West 37th Street, in Manhattan. The show will also be available via livestream. Tickets for Let the Crows Come are $25 and can be purchased online at bacnyc.org or by phone at 866-811-4111. Running time is 60 minutes. Proof of Covid-19 vaccination is required and face masks must be worn at all times at BAC.
Let the Crows Come, which was developed during a 2018 BAC Residency and premiered as part of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's Liquid Music Series in November 2019, has been lauded for its "enchanting beauty, arresting movement, and inventive intelligence" that "illuminates Bharatanatyam's future" (City Pages). Evoking mythography and ancestry, it uses the metaphor of crows as messengers for the living and guides for the departed—and in the process explores how memory and homeland channel guidance and dislocation.
Let the Crows Come evolved from a simple observation: When a DJ remixes a song its essence is maintained while its trajectory has shifted. To Ramaswamy, a founding company member of the internationally renowned Ragamala Dance Company, this mutation is reminiscent of being a second-generation immigrant—a person who has been culturally remixed to fit into multiple places at once. "My upbringing in both India and the US has encouraged a hybrid aesthetic perspective, and my work is aimed at immigrants longing to make connections between the ancestral and the current," explains Ramaswamy. "I create environments for the stage where past, present, and future intermingle; these worlds capture the disorientation and reorientation of the immigrant settling into a new land and explore how to preserve individuality while creating new spaces of convergence."
With Let the Crows Come, Ramaswamy examines ritual, tradition, and iteration through a genrebending evolution of movement and music across cultural and corporeal boundaries. In a series of solos performed by three dancers with distinct artistic lineages and movement styles Ramaswamy (trained in Bharatanatyam), Alanna Morris (trained in Modern and African Diasporic dance traditions), and Berit Ahlgren (trained in Gaga technique)—the Bharatanatyam form is deconstructed and recontextualized to recall a memory that has a shared origin but is remembered differently from person to person. The original score, performed live, takes inspiration from Carnatic (South Indian classical) music. Composers Jace Clayton (aka DJ/rupture) and Brent Arnold extrapolate from Prema Ramamurthy's Carnatic score, utilizing centuries-old compositional structures as the point of departure for their sonic explorations.
Let the Crows Come features Ashwini Ramaswamy and dancer/choreographers Berit Ahlgren and Alanna Morris. Original music by Brent Arnold, Jace Clayton, and Prema Ramamurthy. Music performed by Brent Arnold (cello), Jace Clayton (electronics), Rohan Krishnamurthy (mridangam), Roopa Mahadevan (vocals), and Arun Ramamurthy (violin). With sound design by Maury Jensen and lighting design by Mat Terwilliger.
Let the Crows Come was commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's Liquid Music Series and is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project and the MAP Fund (both supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation). The work was developed in part during a residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (NYC) and the National Center for Choreography at the University of Akron (OH).
The BAC presentation of Let the Crows Come is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
About the Artists
The foundation of Ashwini Ramaswamy's work and aesthetic direction begins with decades of dance training with her gurus—her mother Ranee Ramaswamy and sister Aparna Ramaswamy (Directors of Ragamala Dance Company), and the legendary Smt. Alarmél Valli of Chennai, India—to uphold the balance between technical rigor, physicality, grace, and expressive authenticity that is the hallmark of their Bharatanatyam lineage. The New York Times describes Ramaswamy as "weaving together, both fearfully and joyfully, the human and the divine...there is a continual flow of energy coursing through her limbs."
As a founding member of Ragamala, she has toured extensively, performing throughout the US and in Russia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, the UK and India. Ramaswamy has received commissions from the SPCO's Liquid Music Series, American Dance Platform, Macalester College, and the Great Northern Festival; residencies at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (NYC), UNC Chapel Hill (North Carolina), Kohler Arts Center (Sheyboygan, WI), the National Center for Choreography (Akron, OH), and the Bogliasco Foundation (Bogliasco, Italy); support from the National Dance Project, MAP Fund, USArtists International, Minnesota State Arts Board, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund, a Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, and McKnight Foundation Artist Fellowships for Dance and Choreography. Her choreography has been listed among the "Best of the Year" in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnpost, and Big Dance Town. As a 2019 City Pages' Artist of the Year, Ramaswamy and her work were highlighted for "illuminating Bharatanatyam's future." She is currently touring Let the Crows Come nationally in the 2021–2022 season.
Berit Ahlgren (co-choreographer/dancer), a St. Paul native, trained at Minnesota Dance Theater with both Loyce and Lise Houlton. A founding member of TU Dance, Ahlgren performed with the company from 2006 to 2016. In 2011, Ahlgren had the opportunity to study the Gaga Movement Language in Tel Aviv, and moved to Israel to pursue a yearlong Gaga teacher certification. Ahlgren obtained her MFA in dance from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts in 2016, where she expanded her interests to film and technology, actively collaborating with NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). Since then, Ahlgren has worked with such artists as Jerome Bel, Carl Flink, and Helen Hatch, as well as collaborating with filmmakers Katie Sadler, J.J. Kaiser, and Robert Uehlin, and theater directors Nathan Keepers, Randy Reyes, and Luverne Seifert. Ahlgren established HoneyWorks in 2019, a dance organization to house interdisciplinary work.
In addition to dozens of works for solo cello and electronics, Brent Arnold (solo cello and electronics performance) has written numerous pieces for concert, film, theater, and dance, combining classical and non-Western elements with electronic processing and improvisation. He has toured as a solo artist in North America, Europe, and Japan. His most recent solo album, Night, Exquisite, was called "a journey" and "a beautiful record" by Vice magazine and "cinematic and lushly coherent" by Time Out New York. He is currently music director for the live performances of Robert A. A. Lowe's score for Nia DaCosta's film Candyman.
Jace Clayton (composer, DJ) is an artist and writer based in Manhattan also known for his work as DJ /rupture. Clayton uses an interdisciplinary approach to focus on how sound, civic agency, and public space interact. Clayton has performed in over three dozen countries, both solo and as an ensemble director, and he gives frequent artist talks worldwide. His book Uproot: Travels in 21st Century Music and Digital Culture was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Clayton serves on the music faculty of Bard College's Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts and is a visiting lecturer at Harvard University.
Rohan Krishnamurthy (composer, percussion - mridangam, khanjira, ghatam) is an Indian American percussionist, composer, and educator who is one of the leading voices of Indian classical and cross-genre music in the South Asian diaspora. Acclaimed a "musical ambassador" by The Times of India, he received mridangam training from the esteemed Sri. Guruvayur Dorai. Distinguished as a soloist, composer, and collaborator, Krishnamurthy's latest offering includes The Alaya Project, an Indo-jazz-funk experiment with world jazz luminaries Prasant Radhakrishnan (saxophone) and Colin Hogan (keyboard/accordion). Krishnamurthy received a Ph.D. in musicology from the Eastman School of Music in New York. He has taught at renowned institutions, including Eastman, Harvard University, Berklee College of Music, A.R. Rehman's K.M. Conservatory of Music (India), Munich Conservatory (Germany), Kyoto University, Society for Ethnomusicology, and Percussive Arts Society International Convention. He is the recipient of commissions from the San Francisco Arts Commission, Zellerbach Foundation, and Goethe Institute (Germany), and received a patent for his drum tuning system, which is available worldwide.
Roopa Mahadevan (composer, vocals) is a leading second-generation Indian classical and crossover vocalist in the American diaspora, known for her powerful, emotive voice, versatility, and collaborative spirit. She leads the crossover ensemble Roopa in Flux, where she works with musicians in jazz, soul, and R&B, directs the innovative choir Navatman Music Collective, and sings for leading Bharatanatyam and modern dancers. Mahadevan received Carnatic training under Asha Ramesh and further training under Suguna Varadachari through a Fulbright Scholarship. She has performed in such diverse venues as Chennai's Music Academy, Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum, Chicago Cultural Center, and the Hollywood Bowl, among others. She is a soloist on several albums, including Christopher Tin's Grammy Award-winning Calling All Dawns, and has been chosen for residencies at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity, Hedgebrook, and Mass MOCA. Mahadevan released her album Roopa in Six Yards: a Carnatic Playlist in 2019 and is currently a member of the prestigious Joe's Pub Working Group.
Alanna Morris (co-choreographer/dancer) is a dancer-choreographer, educator, and artist organizer excavating cultural retention and fragmentation within their Caribbean diasporic identity. Morris was a featured performer with TU Dance from 2007 to 2017. In 2020 they served as the company's artistic associate and a founding teaching artist at The School at TU Dance Center since 2011. Morris is currently an artistic advisor to Springboard Danse Montreal. In 2018 they were named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch!" Morris is a 2015 McKnight Dance Fellow, a 2020 McKnight Choreographer Fellow, City Pages Artist of the Year and Best Choreographer (2019). Morris is the artistic director of AMVTP, founded in 2017 to produce dance, education, and community-building initiatives. Morris's choreography has been commissioned by Minnesota Dance Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, Children's Theatre Co.; the dance department at Carleton College, and The Cowles Center. Their most recent solo performance art project, Black Light: a re:Search performance, premiered at the Great Northern Festival in February 2022. Morris is part of the dance faculty at Bard College as a Guest Teaching Artist through Gibney Dance (NY), and is a graduate of the Juilliard School.
Arun Ramamurthy (composer, violin) is a multifaceted violinist, composer, and educator based in Brooklyn, NY, and is a disciple of the celebrated Carnatic violinist brothers Sri Mysore Nagaraj and Dr. Mysore Manjunath and the esteemed violinist Sri Ananthakrishnan. He has distinguished himself as a versatile artist, performing internationally in both traditional Carnatic and Hindustani settings, as well as bridging genres with his own innovative projects like the acclaimed Arun Ramamurthy Trio and Nakshatra with his wife and violinist Trina Basu. He has shared the stage with artists such as Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, Sudha Ragunathan, Reggie Workman, Amir ElSaffar, Adam Rudolph, and Marc Cary, among others. Ramamurthy's music has brought him to such prestigious stages as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Celebrate Brooklyn, and more. He is co-founder of Brooklyn Raga Massive, a globally recognized collective of forwardthinking musicians rooted in and inspired by the classical music of India. Through BRM, Ramamurthy has curated and performed in a multitude of concerts bringing together music from all over the world.
Prema Ramamurthy (Carnatic composer) has been an outstanding vocalist and composer for more than four decades. She received intensive training under maestro Padmavibhushan Dr. Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna, specialized in the art of Pallavi singing from Vidwan Sri T. V. Gopalakrishnan, and learned the art of singing Padams and Javalis from Mrs. T. Muktha. She has won critical acclaim as a composer and has performed in many of the top venues and festivals of India, the US, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, Mexico, and South Africa.
About Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC)
BAC is the realization of a long-held vision by artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov who sought to build an arts center in Manhattan that would serve as a gathering place for artists from all disciplines. BAC's opening in 2005 heralded the launch of this mission, establishing a thriving creative laboratory and performance space for artists from around the world. BAC's activities encompass a robust residency program augmented by a range of professional services, including commissions of new work, as well as the presentation of performances by artists at varying stages of their careers. In tandem with its commitment to supporting artists, BAC is dedicated to building audiences for the arts by presenting contemporary, innovative work at affordable ticket prices. For more information, visit bacnyc.org.
Baryshnikov Arts Center Acknowledgements
Baryshnikov Arts Center is grateful for the support of its generous individual and institutional annual fund donors in 2019–2021.
Anonymous (4); Pierre Apraxine; Joanne and Tuvia Barak; Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lisa Rinehart; Simon Basner; Carol Baxter and Loren Plotkin; Michael Benari; Ray and Jane Bernick; Jamie Bishton; Dr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Borer; Catherine Brennan; Dino Buturovic and Mirjana Ciric; Cora Cahan; Pamela Ceglinski; Frank and Monique Cordasco; Anya and Peter Cole; Nancy Dalva; Richard and Jennie DeScherer; Janet Dewan; Joseph and Diana DiMenna; Robert Dorf; Estate of James H. Duffy; Cheryl Lee and Steven C. Dupré; William James Earle; David Fanger and Martin Wechsler; Alan and Judy Fishman; Barbara G. Fleischman; Anne and Chris Flowers; Sandra Foschi; Jennifer Frautschi; Alex and Jenia Fridlyand; Kineret Gal-On; Randy Gaugert; Joan Geller; Carol Giles-Straight; Jon Gilman and Brad Learmonth; Slavka B. Glaser; Dan and Tara Goleman; Valery Golovitser; Agnes Gund; Cynthia Harvey; David S. Hattem; Deborah Hicks; Huong Hoang; Joan Hooker; In Honor of Roger Hooker; Sarah Hooker; Fred Humphrey; Susan Israel; Bengt and Jelena Jangfeldt; Bobbo Jetmundsen; Carine Joannou; Stephanie Joel; Susan Justman; Leo and Nadine Keegan; Douglas and Catharine Knuth; Miodrag Kukrika; Iya Labunka; Evgenia Lando; Karen Latner; Jarrett and Maritess Lilien; Julie Lilien; Topper Lilien; Marianne Lockwood and David Bury; Nick and Cass Ludington; The Honorable and Mrs. Earle Mack; Maia Mamamtavrishvili; Marsha Mason; Hilary McDaniel; Karen McLaughlin and Mark Schubin; Adam Miller; Gary Miller and Valerie Beaman; Bob and Carol Morris; Mark Morris; Mark R. Morris; Kirsten Munro; Alexander Nakhimovsky; Brooke Garber Neidich and Daniel Neidich; Bebe Neuwirth; Alessandra Nicifero; Ingrid Nyeboe and Louise Fishman; Zoya and Anna Obraztsova; Lorenza Panero; Denis Pelli; Ray Pepi and Karen Arrigoni; Steven and Michèle Pesner; Georgiana Pickett; Darryl Pinckney; Millicent Powers; Noni Pratt; In Honor of Vladimir Radunsky; Mary Ann Reddy; Christina Repetti; John Rockwell; John Sansone; Jed David Satow Family Foundation; Dorothy Scheuer; Michael Schmale; Laura Schoen; Joel Shapiro and Ellen Phelan; Wallace Shawn and Deborah Eisenberg; Sandy Siegel; Jeremy Smith; Gus Solomons; Ellen Sorrin and David York; Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley; Christina Sterner and Steve Poses; Angele Surault; Anne and William Tatlock; Lisa Marie Valeri; Deidra Wager; Robert and Kathleen Wallace; Robert Warshaw and Debbie Schmidt; Shelley Washington; Mary R. Waters; Suzanne Weil; Roger Weisberg and Karen Freedman; David N. White; Stephen Wood and Louisa Spencer.
Altman Foundation; American Chai Trust; Anonymous (2); Bay and Paul Foundations; Blavatnik Family Foundation; Bloomberg Philanthropies; Dance/NYC's New York City Dance Rehearsal Space Subsidy Program, made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; The Enoch Foundation; Don Falconio Memorial Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation; Howard Gilman Foundation; Harkness Foundation for Dance; Irving Harris Foundation; Francena T. Harrison Foundation Trust; Dubose & Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund; William Talbott Hillman Foundation; Consulate General of Israel in North America; Jerome Foundation; Alex Katz Foundation; Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation; Kent Van-Alen Fund; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation; MJR Foundation; New England Foundation for the Arts Dance Project with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; North American-Chilean Chamber of Commerce; Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation; NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust; Princess Grace Foundation-USA; Robert Rauschenberg Foundation; The Reed Foundation; Related Companies; The Jerome Robbins Foundation; Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund; Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; The Shubert Foundation; The Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation; Soros Fund Charitable Foundation; Consulate General of Switzerland in New York; The Thompson Family Foundation; Trust for Mutual Understanding; Twin Beeches Foundation. Baryshnikov Arts Center is also grateful for support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Funding is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature. Yamaha is the official piano of the Baryshnikov Arts Center as of December 2021.
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