Ragamala Dance Company and Saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa to Perform 'Song of Jasmine' at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

By Jaime Prisco 
Mar 05, 2015 01:38 PM EST 

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago will present Song of Jasmine, an experiment across the forms of Western jazz and South Indian music by the dance and music ensemble Ragamala Dance Company and saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa. 

Together, Mahanthappa and Ragamala are united and inspired by their shared bicultural identities as Indian-Americans. Song of Jasmine will explore the interconnectedness of three central themes in Indian culture: the spiritual, the sensual and the natural.

Co-directors of the show, mother-daughter team Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy, look at important texts and interpret them through dance and music. The duo was guided by the writings of the 9th century Tamil mystic poet Andal's Sacred Saying of the Goddess. Mahanthappa's sound merges South Indian and Western forms with an emphasis on improvisation. The staging of the show is completed by a striking canopy of brand bells and costumes created in India.

This performance marks first-time collaborations for all involved. Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy will perform with three dancers from their company alongside Mahanthappa, who plays with an assembled quintet of versatile jazz and South Indian musicians: Rez Abbasi (electric guitar), Raman Kalyan (South Indian flute), Rajna Swaminathan (mridangam/South Indian percussion), and Anjna Swaminathan (South Indian violin). Currently, the piece is touring nationally.

Based in Minneapolis, Ragamala Dance Company is recognized as one of the Indian diaspora's leading dance ensembles in the traditional genre of Bharatanatyam and have toured extensively internationally. Mahanthappa is a leading jazz saxophonist and composer who creates hybrid sounds bridging progressive jazz with South Indian classical music.

The performance at MCA will take place from April 10 to 12 in the Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Click here to learn more aboutSong of Jasmine or to purchase tickets to the show.