Aparna Ramaswamy

Aparna Ramaswamy is co-artistic director, choreographer, and principal dancer of Ragamala Dance Company with her choreographic partner (and mother) Ranee Ramaswamy. From a young age, she has worked in a creative partnership with Ranee, through which they have created their own specific sub-genre that combines a contemporary Western aesthetic with an Indian ethos.

Ramaswamy is known for her insightful choreography and nuanced performance, through which she actively questions and engages the dynamic tension at the intersection of tradition and innovation, ancestral wisdom and creative freedom, idiom and spontaneity. Born in India and raised both in India and the U.S., Ramaswamy spent four months every year studying and performing in Chennai as senior disciple/protégé of legendary dancer and choreographer Alarmél Valli while building her own body of work as a dancemaker and performer in the U.S. This cultural hybridity has given her the perspective to approach her idiom—the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam—as a living, breathing language through which to speak to the contemporary experience.

Described by The New York Times as “thrillingly three-dimensional” and “rapturous and profound,” Ramaswamy is the recipient of a 2016 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a 2016 Joyce Award from the Joyce Foundation, three McKnight Artist Fellowships for Dance and Choreography, and a Bush Fellowship for Choreography, and was selected as one of Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch for 2010. 

Ramaswamy’s work is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, MAP Fund, The McKnight Foundation, New Music/USA, USArtists International and the Japan Foundation, and has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Lincoln Center Out of Doors (New York), the Krannert Center (University of Illinois), the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (University of Maryland), Opening Nights Performing Arts (Florida State University), the Arts Center at NYU-Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), and the American Composers Forum. She has developed work in residence at the Magee Allesee National Center for Choreography, the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi, and during an NPN residency at The Yard. 

Ramaswamy’s solo work, presented with live music, has toured the U.S. and India with support from the National Dance Project and USArtists International, most recently at the Joyce Theater (New York), Narada Gana Sabha (Chennai), and the National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai). She is an empaneled artist with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (of the Government of India).

Ramaswamy has a B.A. in International Relations from Carleton College.

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