Dance of the Eternal Pilgrim’

Ragamala Dance Company’s Fires of Varanasi: Dance of the Eternal Pilgrim premieres July 6-7, 2022 at 7:30 PM at American Dance Festival, Reynolds Industries Theater at Duke, Durham, NC. Tickets start at $25 and are available at This production was commissioned by the American Dance Festival.

Rooted in the expansive South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam, Ragamala Dance Company manifests a kinship relationship between the ancient and the contemporary. In this one-night show, eleven dancers evoke a kingdom where time is suspended and where the human merges with the divine. Award-winning creators Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy imagine a metaphorical passageway that enters a ritual world of immortality, evoking the birth-death-rebirth continuum in Hindu thought to honor the life and death experiences of immigrants in the diaspora . Fires of Varanasi evokes the spiritually electric city, described by a mother and daughter in conversation with essayist Pico Iyer as a metaphor for the interconnectedness of life and death. The work includes an original recorded score and lighting designs by French scenographer and lighting designer Willy Cessa.

Fires of Varanasi: Dance of the Eternal Pilgrim was commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; co-commissioned by the Harris Theater for Music and Dance; co-commissioned and developed in part at Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College and Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, Cal State Northridge and Northrop, University of Minnesota; with additional support for the commissioning of Auburn University’s Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center; Meany Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Washington; American Dance Festival; and the Joyce Theater Foundation’s Stephen and Cathy Weinroth Fund for New Work.

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