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Lewis Segal, dance critic of Los Angeles Times, wrote, “(Ramaa Bharadvaj) can dance fusing her body and spirit in a way that brings us close to something ancient and eternal.”
A performer, choreographer, and teacher of international repute, Bharadvaj is a winner of multiple Lester Horton Dance Awards and a recipient of the 2003 Directors Award from the California Arts Council for exemplary contributions to the arts in California. In July 2000, she was featured on the cover of the prestigious Dance Magazine. As director of the Angahara Dance Ensemble, she has presented to sold-out performances at Carpenter’s Center for Performing Arts, Luckman Fine Arts Theater, and Hollywood Bowl’s Summersounds Program. “Jwala-Flame,” a choreography that she created with her daughter, Swetha, on the immigrant experience, was nationally broadcast by PBS in December 2007. In addition, Bharadvaj is one of 21 exceptional South Asian women living in the U.S. whose life stories were presented in the 2005 book Spices in the Melting Pot.
Bharadvaj will present “Dancing into Stillness” in the Khmer Arts Salon Series Concert to close the chapter on her work in the United States. She will soon depart for India to join the faculty of Naada Bindu, a prestigious residential dance and music school that will open its doors to international students outside of Pune. The school is a vision of Swami Tejomayananda, the head of Chinmaya Mission.
“About four years ago, I spent several months at a yoga ashram in India. We were 75 students from 28 different countries and for many of us it was a life-changing experience,” Bharadvaj says. “Now through this project I get to work with a wonderful team to create a similarly nourishing environment for dance and music students from all over the world.”
In her 60-minute solo, “Dancing into Stillness,” Bharadvaj sculpts into movement the discoveries of the human spirit through stories and images from Indian iconography, mythology, and Vedic literature. Through an intricate choreography that depicts the masculine and feminine nature within us, an intense story about racism and segregation, and a joyous benediction for peace, Bharadvaj’s story-dances contemplate on the human soul’s quest through the ages for balance, freedom, and peace. The evening will include an interactive movement segment in which audience will be invited to experience the dance through their bodies and a Q & A session.
Bharatanatyam, one of the eight major classical dances of India is representative specifically of the culture of Tamil Nadu, in south India. It evolved as a solo dance form from dances which have been in India for over 3,000 years. Supported by royal endowments, it was practiced as part of worship ritual within the temples by temple dancers. With the beginning of the 20th century, bharatanatyam has become a concert art form and has come to be regarded as one of the most influential dances of our time.
The Khmer Arts Academy Salon Series is curated by Prumsodun Ok, a dancer, filmmaker, and teacher at the Khmer Arts Academy. Presented in the format of lecture-performances in an intimate setting, this monthly series is aimed at educating and cultivating an audience for highly stylized theater with special emphasis on traditional Art forms from Southern and Southeastern Asia. “We hope to help the audience journey into understanding and deciphering these venerable art forms, while appreciating their contemporary relevance,” says Ok. Past performances have featured Cambodian dance and music, Balinese puppetry, and classical Indian music. The series is funded by the James Irvine Foundation and all performances are presented free to the audience.