Proma Ray bridges tradition with innovation in dance

Proma Ray — dressed in a multi-colored top — has her right hand curved near her head while looking upward. Her dark hair is drawn up into a ponytail bun. She wears a glittering green and gold headpiece at the center of her forehead.
Photo Credit: Hannover Sandoval
Proma Ray — dressed in a multi-colored top — has her right hand curved near her head while looking upward. Her dark hair is drawn up into a ponytail bun. She wears a glittering green and gold headpiece at the center of her forehead.

March 6, 2024
Volume 5 Issue 2
By: Olivia Subero

Contemporary dance opens the gates of creativity, allowing centuries-long cultures to mesh and blend with new perspectives and ideas. The founder of Moksha Dance, Proma Ray, emerges as a trailblazer within this realm. With each mesmerizing performance, she invites viewers to embark on a journey of discovery, where tradition and innovation converge to create a new language of expression.

Ray’s vision offers audiences a glimpse into the evolving landscape of dance, even in the digital age. Her upcoming project at Synchronicity Theater, mAIa in Love explores humanity’s relationship with technology. Though dance wasn’t her initial calling, immersion into musical customs laid the foundation for Ray’s journey to creative expression through dance.

Born and raised in India, she didn’t attend a traditional dance school when she was a child. Instead, her parents trained her to be a vocalist, specializing in Indian folk music, which was an established tradition in her hometown. In college, she branched from folk to freestyle dancing, combining the two into her own unique blend of contemporary Indian dance. Even years later, now established in a tech industry career, she has never stopped pursuing her passion.

Ray’s journey took a transformative turn when she founded Moksha Dance in 2012, seeking to build a community while adapting to her new life as a recently divorced mother.

“I wanted to create a space that allowed me to balance parenting and my passion,” Ray said during an interview with DanceATL. “It helped me cope.”

Proma Ray — dressed in a black top and red pants — sits in a deep squat while two dancers slightly behind and to her left and right step into deep lunges with their arms stretched forward.
Photo Credit: James Curtis Barger
Proma Ray — dressed in a black top and red pants — sits in a deep squat while two dancers slightly behind and to her left and right step into deep lunges with their arms stretched forward.

Moksha Dance prides itself on its commitment to artistic integrity, diversity, and social relevance. Her collaborative approach to dance emphasizes the importance of teamwork and collective creativity, fostering a supportive environment where artists can thrive and evolve. In addition to this, the company embraces and emphasizes women’s empowerment through its storytelling. Ray’s choreography reflects her desire to amplify marginalized voices in meaningful ways.

“[We’re] a lot like a family,” Ray says, “We get to know each other by sharing meals and partaking in holidays and cultural events. [It] helps us overcome not knowing or understanding the language and culture.”

The performances Moksha Dance creates use societal issues and concepts as  vehicle for narrative exploration of the human condition. mAIa in Love, for example, explores love, identity, and the evolving intersection of humans and technology, specifically artificial intelligence.

According to Ray, the story’s titular character, Maia, was inspired by the Greek goddess of the same name, famously known as the goddess of nurturing and motherhood. The character mAIa of Ray’s work embodies these attributes.. The narrative of mAIa in Love focuses on a love story between two humans and an AI designed to embody the idea of “the perfect woman.” Ironically, Maia represents what humans used to be, her juxtaposition challenging societal ideals of love and highlighting technology’s inherent flaws in replicating human emotion. The production delves into the complexities of modern relationships in an era of technological advancement. Ray’s decision to fuse mythology with technology offers a unique lens through which to examine human interactions, prompting audiences to reflect on the evolving nature of intimacy and connection.

“This story will ask the audience, ‘How is [technology] changing our relationships?’” Ray says, “I want this narrative to highlight the different ‘flawed’ sides of humans that AI can’t replicate, how we communicate outside of just words.”

Proma Ray — dressed in a golden, black, and red top and a red skirt — has her right hand curved near her head and left hand straight at her side as she makes a kneeling lunge with her left leg forward.
Photo Credit: James Curtis Barger
Proma Ray — dressed in a golden, black, and red top and a red skirt — has her right hand curved near her head and left hand straight at her side as she makes a kneeling lunge with her left leg forward.

This production is not the first time Moksha Dance has integrated technology into its projects. When putting together the choreography, Ray’s vision extends beyond traditional movement, utilizing props and gadgets to amplify technology-based storytelling and emphasize complex social and interpersonal themes.

One example, where Ray previously drew in technological themes and objects, was a piece that featured three young boys connecting through the messaging platform Discord. The dancers utilized props to explore further modern communication’s transformative power, highlighting the enduring bonds forged in the digital realm. Another example is a piece that conceptualized social networks using dancers as electrical circuits. Through her mesmerizing choreography and storyline, Ray invited viewers to contemplate the profound impact of technology on human relationships, specifically the deep connections that bind humans together in the modern age.

As Proma Ray and Moksha Dance continue to push the boundaries of contemporary dance, their legacy as visionaries and storytellers grows ever stronger. Ray inspires audiences to reevaluate their perceptions of dance and its transformative power through her innovative technology use and unwavering commitment to artistic excellence.

In the dynamic world of dance, Proma Ray stands as a beacon of creativity and innovation, charting a course toward a future where cultural heritage and technological innovation converge. As her work continues to captivate hearts and minds, one thing remains clear: Proma Ray’s influence on the dance community will endure for generations to come.

Audiences can experience ~ mAIa in Love ~ April 26, 2024 at 7:30pm at Synchronicity Theatre.


Photo Courtesy of Olivia Subero
Olivia is posing with her violin and bow in hand. She’s wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and has her hair pulled back as she smiles for the camera.

Olivia Subero is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and editor. She has three years of writing and editing experience and about two years of freelance writing experience. During her college years, she has worked with businesses and entrepreneurs to create website content, with article writing as her specialty. Olivia’s writing is featured in online publications such as Comic Book Resources, Visionary Artistry Magazine, and The Peak. She has written and edited pieces ranging from indie musicians to “Top 10” lists; some are even educational, like her “9 Common Japanese Honorifics in Anime, Explained.”

Her love of writing started in childhood, just after learning to read. English was her favorite subject in school, and she loved reading all kinds of literature, from biographies to folktales. Olivia graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Kennesaw State University with two minors in Professional Writing and Japanese. She is pursuing her Master’s degree in Professional Writing with concentrations in Creative Writing and Rhetoric and Composition. She is also working as an English Composition instructor at KSU.

Read more by Olivia:

Jacquelyn Pritz shows her heritage and passion through the art of dance

Mathematics in Motion: Math professor Evans Harrell and his team use the art of dance to engage with audiences

Full Radius Dance: Turning tradition on its head

Shoccara Marcus and Tamara Irving shine a light on Black pioneers in the dance industry

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