Classical Indian Dance, Indian Dance/Theater; Asian Dance and Music Program, Fine Arts Center; Adjunct Faculty
Ranjanaa Devi trained for twenty-two years in several classical dance and theater styles under three eminent performers and teachers -Guru Gopinath, Guru Valmiki Bannerjee, Guru Mayadhar Raut developing a unique style of her own that is expressive, energetic and filled with delicate nuances. She holds academic degrees in Music and Musicology from the Shankar Lal Institute of Music, Delhi University. In 1982, she founded Nataraj Performing Arts of India, a non-profit educational and cultural organization for the promotion of performing arts of India in the United States. As the artistic director, dancer and choreographer she has presented innumerable concerts, festivals, workshops and cultural community events with her dance company Nataraj Dancers in national and international venues. She organized a classroom teaching program on Indian arts and culture “Dancing for the Gods” for MCET interactive televised educational network and has been a selected artist on the Massachusetts Cultural Council and New England Foundation for the Arts Touring Artist Roster for the Events and Residency programs in the New England public schools.
Ranjanaa Devi has choreographed and directed several major dance-dramas that have been presented in notable theaters such as Gita-Govinda at Smith College and at the Ethnic Arts Festival at Riverside Church in New York City, RagaMala (commissioned by Williams College Museum of Art) at Williams College Theater, Moksha at Pontine Movement Theater, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Festival of Lights, Namaskar and Pooja: the Five Elements at Bowker Auditorium, University of Massachusetts, Dance of the Deities and In Praise of Tara at the Springfield Museum, Springfield, MA and most recently premiered Mudra: The Gesture Speaks to celebrate her 25 th anniversary. Her work has also been presented internationally in India, Canada, Australia and Japan. Video documentation of her work has been acquired for use by many university libraries worldwide. She has served on artist panels for Massachusetts Cultural Council grants and has received several awards in the cultural heritage preservation, organization and professional development categories for her own work. She has presented several papers and workshops at regional, national and international conferences. She has been the US National Representative for Dance and the Child International (UNESCO), a member of National Dance Education Organization, Arts Presenters Association of America, and the Arts Literacy Project. Ranjanaa was the recipient of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Senate Citation Award in 2007.
In 1993, Ranjanaa Devi became the Founder Director of the Asian Arts & Culture Program at the Fine Arts Center, University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has presented nationally and internationally renowned artists and teachers from Asian and the Middle Eastern countries at the University. As a faculty member in the Five College dance department, she teaches courses on each academic year and is the program director for the Alankara: Arts in India study tour, a three credit course that is offered each year. She has been the recipient of many grants and awards from academic and governmental agencies to develop and present innovative work by Asian artists and scholars such as Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Asian Cultural Council, Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts,New England Foundation for the Arts and recently from the Japan Society of Boston. With her strength of knowledge and experience in arts, administration and education, she has established the Asian Arts & Culture Program as a unique and vital program in the region.