Ragamala Dance, which performed recently as part of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center Footlights series, came to Cleveland Elementary School for a demonstration.
Beginning with the ancient myth of how Indian dance was created and continuing with an informative and interactive session that includes the traditional salutation, basic postures, rhythmic and gestural technique, and the four aspects of expressive dance, Ragamala showed the students and staff how an ancient art form stays eternally relevant and is used in contemporary dance choreography.
Ragamala Dance presented Bharatanatyam—the classical dance of South India. The Indian dance system is the oldest and most comprehensive in the world, and Bharatanatyam is amongst the oldest of its classical forms. Originating in the ancient temples of South India more than 2,000 years ago, Bharatanatyam has come down through the centuries, integrating elements of music, theater, poetry, sculpture, and literature.
Bharatanatyam has a structured set of steps, postures, and rules, which offer a beautiful language that can be used in extremely creative ways. Just like a poet can use English words to write his or her own poetry, a choreographer can use the Bharatanatyam vocabulary to create his or her own dances. Once a dancer or choreographer has deeply studied the form for a long time and knows the grammar very well, it is possible to be very creative. This makes Bharatanatyam a perfect medium for personal expression.
Ragamala Dance has toured throughout the United States and around the world.