An Indian board game comes to life at The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi through classical South Indian dance, music and digital projection

Written in Water by Ragamala Dance Company, with live music composed by Amir elSaffar, is an exploration of the game Snakes and Ladders and the 12th century Sufi poem The Conference of the Birds

Press Release

The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) is proud to welcome back Ragamala Dance Company this March, as they bring their multi-disciplinary show Written in Water to The Red Theater, a co-commission of The Arts Center, making its Middle East Premiere on Wednesday, March 21 and Thursday 22. 

After featuring in The Arts Center’s first season back in 2015, the bharatanatyam company Ragamala Dance returns with its entrancing show Written in Water – an exploration of the Indian board game Paramapadam and the 12th century Sufi poem The Conference of the Birds which was partially developed in residence at NYU Abu Dhab.. Paramapadam is an early version of ‘Snakes and Ladders’, which is cleverly presented on stage through digital projection.

Conceived and choreographed by Co-Artistic Directors Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy with music by Amir ElSaffar.Guests can expect to see a splendid showcase as dancers navigate large-scale projections of snakes and ladders and original paintings by Chennai-based visual artist Keshav and Minneapolis artist Nathan Christopher..  Leading the musical ensemble is composer Amir ElSaffar – another returning artist to The Arts Center – who brings a distinct amalgam of Iraqi maqam and South Indian Carnatic music. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has called the work “Truly magical,” while the Tallahassee Democrat writes: “Written in Water unfolded like a dream -- a feast for the eyes, ears and heart.”


Bill Bragin, executive artistic director at The Arts Center at NYUAD, is pleased to welcome back the dance company, saying: “When Ragamala performed in our inaugural season as our first ever dance presentation, it created such a tremendous response we immediately had to add a show to meet the demand. Audiences had a rapturous reaction to Ragamala’s gorgeous combination of deeply rooted classical bharatanatyam and their contemporary approach to presentating the work. While at NYU Abu Dhabi, they brought together Written in Water’s creative collaborators for the first time to explore the piece in an important early workshop. We’re thrilled to welcome the company back to present the piece that has now been touring with Abu Dhabi’s imprimatur to wide acclaim” 

Tickets will go on sale  Wednesday, February 21 at 3pm, with performances on Wednesday March 21 and Saturday 22 at 8pm. For more information please visit:

The Arts Center at NYUAD is an internationally renowned performing arts center that presents distinguished professional artists from around the world alongside student, faculty, and community productions.

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About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.