By Archita Harathi ’22
Archita is a member of Arts Ambassadors, Dartmouth First Year students who attend Hop performances together. The Arts Ambassadors attended Written in Water. Archita has studied Indian classical dance. Interested in Arts Ambassadors? Find out more here.
Ragamala Dance Company is a well-known and highly esteemed practitioner of one of India’s oldest classical dance forms, Bharatanatyam. The name “Bharatanatyam” comes from an amalgamation of the words “Bhava,” or expression, “Raga,” or music, “Tala,” or rhythm, and “Natya,” or dance. Bharatanatyam combines fast-paced and varying rhythms, sharp and elegant movements of the body, eyes, hands and feet, and intricate and interweaved expressions to produce technical and graceful dance pieces. Many Bharatanatyam performances praise gods and goddesses, describe the wonders of the natural world, depict Indian stories and mythology, or portray various relationships.
Tuesday and Wednesday’s performances were a truly authentic Bharatanatyam piece with a modern twist. Choreographed by Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy, Written in Water elegantly portrayed the unique aspects of pure Bharatanatyam mixed with elements of jazz and Iraqi music to provide its audience with a traditional and modern experience.
The choreography of the piece interestingly captured the performance’s beauty and modernity. The dancers covered the stage in varied positions, some even facing away from the audience to add depth to the stage and to the story they were depicting. At the start of the piece, the five dancers each performed various steps, not one of them in synch with another, to interlace and weave together the separate rhythmic structures.
Ragamala Dance Company also showcased a perfect blend of multiple mediums of art, through the live orchestra’s Indian rhythms and melodies and vibrant Iraqi solos, and the storytelling screen graphics.
Written in Water, a technical and emotional masterpiece, transformed the stage into a spiritual awakening of the coming-together of the modern and ancient world, beautifully capturing the minds and hearts of the audience.