Rangoli Foundation for Art & Culture
Rangoli Foundation for Art & Culture, a non profit organization was established in 1985 by artistic director, Malathi Iyengar to realize a creative vision of presenting visual and performing arts of India. In India, the antiquity of the visual art Rangoli, symbolizes Beauty, Hope and Tradition. This symbolism has been an inspiration to name the company Rangoli.
Rangoli Foundation has presented a wide variety of dance performances, festivals, music concerts, guest artists, visual arts exhibits, residencies, master classes and staged several productions ever since its inception. Rangoli Foundation is committed to developing cultural awareness and inter-cultural dialogue through the artistic expressions of dance, music, theater and visual arts.
Rangoli Foundation celebrated 30th Anniversary celebrations on June 27 & August 1, 2015 featuring classics and new choreographic works.
The foundation frequently brings renowned tradition bearers, dancers and musicians from India to the United States, often for the first time to work with company artists. In August 2004, Rangoli Foundation published ‘Dance & Devotion’ the first book written by Malathi Iyengar.
Inspiration & Vision
I come from a family of artists and musicians. My parents Sharada and Venkatachalan were actively involved in not only pursuing their own training in vocal music and the violin, but were also key figures in organizing music concerts, religious discourses called Harikathas and Gamaka Rupakas for Rama Navami Festival and other community events in a small village called Soladevanahalli (near Hesaraghatta, home of Nrityagram) in Bangalore, India. Though they had little means, they conducted two week long festivals with the help of a few members who had the similar passion for classical art forms. My father was also the Secretary for four years and was responsible for all aspects of organizing events. They continued the tradition for almost 20 years between 1955 – 1975. As children, my brother Sudarshan and myself immersed ourselves in these festivities. Thus the seeds were sown for nurturing our rich cultural heritage.
During these times, I learned, practiced, and honed my skills as a visual artist. I indulged in painting, drawing, and was prolific in creating the sacred floor designs and mandalas called ‘Rangoli’. The art of Rangoli is executed purely as an offering to the Gods along with flowers, fruits, and candles. The ritual of drawing Rangoli patterns, a skill handed down from mother to daughter is considered an auspicious welcome sign. Women start their daily chores by drawing Rangoli designs in front of the threshold, prayer area, courtyards, walls, and in front of the sacred plant Tulasi. Drawn meticulously and with bare fingers, it is meant to ward of all evils and is revered as a divine art. The visual art of Rangoli, involves a floor drawing and is usually drawn using rice flour, chalk, fine quartz powder, flower petals, grains, or other natural materials made of vegetable dyes. In India, the antiquity of the visual art Rangoli symbolizes Beauty, Hope and Tradition.
Hence our artistic endeavors took the name Rangoli Foundation for Art & Culture.
As a part of our outreach activities, Rangoli Foundation has occasionally featured artists and scholars from various fields ranging from music, dance, visual art, literature and Yoga in intimate settings. Aarohi – Avarohi is one such initiative of Rangoli Foundation that took its roots in 1985 in Los Angeles and has continued to share the rich traditions of Indian classical music. Aarohi – Avarohi refers to the ascending and descending order of notes in a Raga. In Indian classical music Raga refers to a musical scale formed by the permutation and combination of the Swaras or the basic notes (Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa).
Around 1988, a strong concern to introduce our then 6 year old daughter, Lakshmi to Indian culture and art turned out to be the very involved process of finding a master teacher in India and eventually both of us pursuing Bharatanatyam dance vigorously. I performed my solo dance debut in 1992 when I was 38 years old and Lakshmi in 1993 at 11.
All along the pillar of strength was my husband, Suresh, in addition to my guru Narmada and my parents. I felt the addition of dance as a component in my life and as well as for Rangoli activities was a natural transition and addition. Rangoli Dance Company was formed in 1992 and the company comprised of my senior students and guest artists from India.
In 2003, I developed Dreams & Visions, a speaking engagement project to share my experiences and thoughts on leadership, integrity, and goals. In these seminars, I have focused on motivating women to pursue their dreams and aim to realize their full potential.
In 2004, I wrote and compiled ‘Dance & Devotion’ a hand book on Bharatanatyam which includes illustrations drawn by my husband Suresh Iyengar. The book was published by Rangoli Foundation.
I feel extremely fortunate to be able to celebrate three decades of enduring music, dance, theatre, and visual arts. I sincerely thank all the master teachers, guest artists, dancers, writers, musicians, composers, designers, volunteers, families, friends, institutions, administrators, government agencies, and individual contributors who’ve made this provocative journey possible.
I deeply appreciate and rely on your continued support of our organization.
With profound gratitude
Malathi a.k.a. Mythili.