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Cross-cultural insights in music and dance

Within the past decade, Ragamala Music and Dance Theater has established itself as a leading light in the rich arts scene of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Co-founder Ranee Ramaswamy "has astounded audiences with works that expand one's perceptions of dance, cross-cultural collaboration and spiritual meaning," Camille LeFevre wrote in Minneapolis' Star Tribune.

Ragamala, on a Florida tour, has a residency this week at Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center. The company's public performance Friday is From Temple to Theater, which celebrates Uday Shankar, who brought Indian classical dance out of the temple sanctuaries and royal households and into the western theater format. Music ranges from Japanese Taiko drumming to the hip-hop of Zap Mama.

Ragamala today gives two performances for schoolchildren of Return of the Rain Seed, above, a folk tale in which a young girl saves her village by defeating the demon who has swallowed the Rain Seed.

Friday's performance of From Temple to Theater is at 8 p.m. at Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center. Tickets: $14, $16. (727) 942-5605.

_ JOHN FLEMING, Times performing arts critic