Hop@Home: Ragamala
Pico Iyer in conversation with

Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy

A talk about ancient Indian traditions in a modern, diasporic world
May 21, 2020

This event occurred as part of the 19/20 Hop@Home season. This is an archived view.

Join renowned essayist, TED talk favorite and upcoming Montgomery Fellow Pico Iyer, an eloquent observer of global art and culture; and Ragamala Dance Company Co-Artistic Directors and Guggenheim Fellows, Bharatanatayam artists Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy.

2020/21 Hop@Home

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Listen in on this discussion by three fascinating members of the global Indian community: writer Pico Iyer and Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy, co-artistic directors of Minneapolis-based Ragamala. Iyer is a renowned essayist, TED speaker and upcoming Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth. Ragamala wowed Hop audiences in 2018 with their show Written in Water and were in residence this fall and winter at the Hop to create their next show, Fires of Varanasi. Ranee and Aparna will take questions through live chat.


Pico Iyer is  a British-born essayist and novelist whose work is informed by his own polyglot English/American/Indian upbringing. Most of his books try to see, from within, some society or way of life—revolutionary Cuba, Sufism, Buddhist Kyoto—but from the larger perspective an outsider can sometimes bring. An essayist for TIME since 1986, Iyer is a constant contributor the New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Harper's, Granta and more than 200 other newspapers and magazines worldwide, and his books have been translated into more than 20 languages. 


Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy,  co-artistic directors of Ragamala Dance Company, explore the dynamic tension between the ancestral and the contemporary, highlighting the fluidity between the secular and the spiritual, the human and the natural. Their training in the South Indian classical dance form of bharatanatyam is the bedrock of their creative aesthetic. Honors they have received include Guggenheim Fellowships, Research Fellowships at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center (Italy), and Doris Duke Artist Fellowships; and commissions from Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, American Dance Festival, the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi, and Walker Art Center.

Ragamala previously appeared at the Hopkins Center in 2018 in its work Written in Water, with musician/composer Amir El Saffar. Ragamala is currently developing the Hop-co-commissioned Fires of Varanasi, an evening-length work based on the birth-death-rebirth continuum in Hindu thought. This past fall and winter, the company carried out two Hop residencies to inform Fires, including interactions with Dartmouth undergraduates and Dartmouth-Hitchcock's medical community.

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