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The Great Northern Festival, The Cowles Center, and Northrop present the World Premiere of Ashwini Ramaswamy & Kevork Mourad: Invisible Cities

January 27, 7:30 pm9 pm.

The Great Northern Festival, The Cowles Center, and Northrop present the world premiere of Ashwini Ramaswamy & Kevork Mourad: Invisible Cities on January 27 & 28, 2023 at 7:30pm, both livestreamed and in-person from the Cowles Center’s Goodale Theater, 528 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN. This two-night engagement is part of Ragamala Dance Company’s 30th Anniversary Season. Tickets are $35 in-person and pay-as-you-are for the livestream. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.thecowlescenter.org/2223/invisible-cities.

“Ramaswamy’s imagination united and flourished, making space, not just for more generations but for more ways of thinking.” 

The New York Times

Bharatanatyam choreographer and dancer Ashwini Ramaswamy (Ragamala Dance Company), deepens a choreographic methodology she began in 2019 with Let the Crows Come—named a “Best of the Year” in The Washington Post and a critic’s pick in The New York Times. Invisible Cites is a collaborative reimagining of Italo Calvino’s metaphysical novel, interweaving cultural perspectives with a dynamic group of dance artists—Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy (Bharatanatyam); Berit Ahlgren (Gaga), Alanna Morris (Modern), and Joseph Tran (Breaking), and visual artist Kevork Mourad, who creates Invisible Cities’ interactive, immersive projections in real time. Ranee and Aparna join Ashwini as guest choreographers and performers on this work.

‘Choreograph Your Classic’ event on January 19, 2023, at Magers & Quinn Booksellers

Ashwini Ramaswamy, lead choreographer of Invisible Cities, and Will McGrath (author, Everything Lost is Found Again, Farewell Transmission) discuss her process of adapting Italo Calvino’s book as a multi-faceted dance performance (premieres January 27 and 28, 2023). Long an inspiration for artists of many disciplines, Calvino’s 1973 novel is a meditation on the environments all around us. The Invisible Cities performance will evoke the book’s themes through movement communicated via four dance traditions: Bharatanatyam (Classical Indian), Modern/African Diasporic, Breaking, and Gaga, as Syrian-American digital artist Kevork Mourad fills the space with live illustrations. Hear from Ramaswamy and the other lead choreographers Alanna Morris, Berit Ahlgren, and Joseph ‘MN Joe’ Tran as they describe their process of finding cohesion and harmony among the myriad perspectives they bring to their work.

About Ragamala Dance Company

Ragamala Dance Company was founded in 1992 by Ranee Ramaswamy and is under the leadership of Artistic Directors Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy, and Choreographic Associate Ashwini Ramaswamy (mother and daughters). Their guru, the legendary Bharatanatyam artist Alarmel Valli of Chennai, India, has guided their training for almost 40 years, imparting her rare combination of aesthetic brilliance, emotive depth, and physical rigor. Ranee and Aparna have ushered this lineage into their own imaginative ecosystems, infusing it with their personal experiences as diasporic artists. Ragamala has become the standard bearer for Bharatanatyam dance in the United States, and has been called “soulful, imaginative, and rhythmically contagious” (The New York Times) and “a wholly magnificent piece of live art” (The Chicago Tribune). We are a pioneering, intergenerational, family-run organization committed to the idea that while history is time bound, the stories we share are timeless. Ragamala engages in a collaborative practice with myriad artists and aesthetics and is rooted in the idea of Bharatanatyam as a dynamic living tradition. Featuring Aparna Ramaswamy as Principal Dancer, Ragamala has been commissioned and presented extensively throughout the U.S., India, and abroad, highlighted by the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Joyce Theater (New York), Lincoln Center (New York), Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (MA), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), American Dance Festival (Durham, NC), The Soraya (Southern California), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, International Festival of Arts & Ideas (New Haven, CT), Cal Performances (Berkeley), Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Just Festival (Edinburgh, U.K.), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia), Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai, India), and National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai, India), among others. Ranee Ramaswamy serves on the National Council on the Arts, appointed by President Barack Obama. Among her recent awards and honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship (Italy), Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Research Fellowship (Italy), United States Artists Fellowship, and McKnight Distinguished Artist Award. Aparna is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship (Italy), Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Research Fellowship (Italy), Joyce Award, and Bush Fellowship for Choreography, among others, and has been selected as one of Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch for 2010. Ashwini is the lead choreographer and director of Invisible Cities. Her work has been commissioned by The Liquid Music Series, The American Dance Platform, Macalester College, and The Great Northern Festival, among others; developed in residencies at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, UNC Chapel Hill, Kohler Arts Center, the National Center for Choreography, the Bogliasco Foundation (Bogliasco, Italy), and the Camargo Foundation (Cassis, France – 2023); and supported by the National Dance Project, MAP Fund, US Artists International, the Jerome Foundation and the McKnight Foundation. ragamaladance.org

About The Great Northern

The Great Northern celebrates our cold, creative winters through diverse programming that invigorates mind and body. In an era of changing climate that threatens our signature season, we seek to create community, inspire action, and share the resilient spirit of the North with the world. For more information on The Great Northern, please visit www.thegreatnorthernfestival.com or follow along on social media at @TheGreatNorthernFestival on Facebook and Instagram and @greatnorthern on Twitter.

About The Cowles Center

The Cowles Center is a dance and performing arts hub that promotes movement and growth for artists through supportive programs and spaces; engages audiences through dynamic performances; and educates learners of all ages through robust and inclusive education initiatives. The Cowles Center is owned and operated by Artspace Projects. For more information, visit thecowlescenter.org or follow @thecowlescenter on Facebook and Instagram.

About Northrop

Rooted in the belief that the arts are essential to the human experience, Northrop is committed to cultivating intersections between performing arts and education for the benefit of all participants now and for generations to come.​​Directly aligned with the teaching, research and service mission of the University of Minnesota, Northrop is a catalyst that uses the boundless power of arts and education to ignite transformation in each individual, inspiring positive change in our world.

Invisible Cities is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by The Great Northern, The Cowles Center, Northrop, The Ronald O. Perelman Center for the Performing Arts, The John Michael Kohler Center, the Bates Dance Festival, and NPN. More information: www.npnweb.org.

This production is made possible in part by funding from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the Marbrook Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. The creation of Invisible Cities is made possible by residences at The John Michael Kohler Arts Center and The National Center for Choreography at the University of Akron, OH.

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