The Department of Theatre/Dance at Gustavus continues its celebration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of The Gustavus Dance Company by presenting a Gustavus Artist Series performance of the famed Ragamala Dance’s 1,001 Buddhas: Journey of the Gods in Anderson Theatre on Wednesday, March 27, beginning at 8:00 p.m. This performance is part of a 2-day residency with events by Ragamala Dance both on the campus and in St. Peter funded by the Minnesota State Arts Board with funds from Minnesota’s Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
Inspired by twenty-eight Hindu deities that guard the 1,001 Buddhist statues of the Sanjusangendo temple in Kyoto, Japan, Ragamala’s co-Artistic Directors Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy conceived 1,001 Buddhas: Journey of the Gods to illustrate the myriad histories and energies of these gods and goddesses and to bring to the modern stage a vision that traverses the scope of spiritual experience, from the intimate to the infinite.
“In 2008,” the artistic directors write, “Art Lee and Yukari Ichise took us to the Sanjusangen-do Temple in Kyoto, Japan. In the hall of the temple, the main deity is surrounded by 1,000 statues of Kannon, the Japanese goddess of compassion. In front of these 1,001 deities are 28 guardians who are known as the protectors of Buddhism. We were amazed to see that these figures have their origins in ancient India–manifestations of our own Hindu deities standing before us in a Buddhist temple in Japan. With Japanese titles derived from the sounds of their original Sanskrit names, these 28 life-sized guardians hold dynamic expressions that evoke awe, reverence and fear.
In 1001 Buddhas: Journey of the Gods, we illuminate the majesty of these guardians and their rich Hindu origins. Their magnificence and associated iconography are imbued with universal meaning, giving them the power to conceptually travel through space and time.”
A dynamic score leads the dancers and the audience through the experience of the dance and the culture that inspired these majestic sculptures. The score was composed by artists Wadaiko Ensemble Tokara of Nagano, Japan (taiko drums), Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan of New Dehli, India (chenda drum), Rajna Swaminathan (mridangam drum), Lalit Subramanian (vocal) and Anjna Swaminathan (violin) and conjures a mythic world where dance, music, and ceremony converge.
Tickets for this Gustavus Artist Series’ presentation of Ragamala Dance Company’s 1001 Buddhas: Journey of the Gods are available online at gustavustickets.com or by calling the Gustavus Ticket Center at 507-933-7590. The one-hour performance begins at 8:00 p.m. in Anderson Theatre on Wednesday, March 27.
The creation of 1,001 Buddhas: Journey of the Gods was made possible in part with funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a Performing Arts Japan grant from the Japan Foundation/New York, and generous support from members of Ragamala’s Rasika Circle. Ragamala’s performance and residency in St. Peter are made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008. Additional funding and sponsorship was provided by the Gustavus Artist Series, The Johnson Endowment for the Arts, The Center for International and Cultural Education, The Interfaith Space Advisory Committee and The St. Peter Food Co-op.