Ragamala Dance Company
Ragamala Dance Company

Fires of Varanasi

Dance of the Eternal Pilgrim
September 17 - 18, 2021

This event occurred as part of the 21/22 Hop Presents season. This is an archived view.

Leave the day-to-day. Enter into the world of immortality.

21/22 Hop Presents


By Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy.
A Hop co-commission and proscenium stage premiere.

In a ritual that accepts life and death, embodies the ancient and the contemporary, the stage is transformed into the holy site of Varanasi, India. Ragamala Dance Company evokes elaborate rites imbued with spiritual meaning. Elaborate pathways around the space summon the metaphorical crossing place with its sacred pilgrimage routes, the Ganges River and the patron deity Shiva. Age-old traditions are shared in a new homeland. Time is suspended. Humans merge with the divine.

Based in the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam, Ragamala Dance Company returns to the Hop as a culminating moment in their multi-year residency. Fires of Varanasi is created by the mother-daughter duo Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy in response to the death of Ranee's father away from his homeland. A devout Hindu, he wished for his ashes to be scattered in the Ganges River in the sacred city of Varanasi, India. In this theatrical reimagining, they expand upon the birth-death-rebirth continuum in Hindu thought to honor immigrant experiences of life and death in the diaspora.

French scenic and lighting designer Willy Cessa transforms the stage into a scene of iconic stairways and landings along the river banks. The full-length work features 11 dancers traversing the sacred waterway and completing the ritual ablutions set to an original, recorded score. The transformation of the soul after cremation becomes a powerful reminder of human resilience and the tenacity of people and cultures across time. 

Fires of Varanasi Trailer (Ragamala Dance Company)

Friday's performance will feature a post-show talk with the artists.

Made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NEA Art Works, the Wetzel Family Fund for the Arts and the David E. Skinner II 1942 Fund

Photo: Arun Kumar

Big Move with Ragamala Dance Company: Ritual, Gender and the Dance of Shiva

A virtual conversation between the artistic directors of the Ragamala Dance Company and Sara Swenson of the Dartmouth Religion Department.
Recorded as part of Big Move, a Hopkins Center series of dance experiences and discussions that pairs inventive dance artists with wide-ranging areas of research.

Learn more about Ragamala's 2021-22 Residency at the Hop >

Ragamala Dance Company
Ragamala Dance Company (RDC) 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). Driven by the artistic vision of Ranee and Aparna, Ragamala Dance Company is the embodiment of an immigrant story. The company's work—on stage, in the community, and educating the next generation—exemplifies the intercultural narratives of countless global citizens and evokes a shared sense of humanity. Through the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam, Ragamala's work explores the myth and spirituality of their Indian heritage in order to engage with what they see as the dynamic tension between the historical, the ancestral, and the personal. Learn more about Ragamala Dance Company >

“Soulful, imaginative and rhythmically contagious.”

The New York Times

In the News

Ragamala Dance Company
Ragamala Dance Company

Fires of Varanasi is inspired by migration and keeping one's culture alive in an adopted homeland and is rooted in Bharatanatyam—a major form of classical Indian dance.

Learn More
Angelique Kidjo
2021/22 Season

Live works bloom this spring Music by global artists including Edgar Meyer, Angélique Kidjo and Amir Elsaffar awaken our senses and expand our imaginations. Bold works, including The Medium and THE...

Learn More

Contact Us

Visiting Information

Hopkins Center
4 East Wheelock Street
Hanover, NH

Directions to Venue

Other Information

Seat Map Overview

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events