Sonali Skandan is a passionate and accomplished artist of Bharatanatyam and one of the more visible artists in the field today. Sonali has been an NYC resident for almost 30 years, and her work reflects the urban, dynamic and diverse atmosphere inherent in the city. She is a student of the legendary C.V. Chandrasekhar and Bragha Bessell of Indian and is receiving creative mentorship with Maya Kulkarni.
Sonali is the Artistic Director of Jiva Performing Arts, where she teaches and creates engaging dance productions to increase the accessibility of the classical arts, and Jiva Dance, a professional dance company presenting compelling works based on Bharatanatyam. Sonali and her company have received praise in the New York Times, Financial Times, and The NJ Star Ledger, among others and and has presented Bharatanatyam worldwide. In 2017, under Sonali’s leadership, Jiva Dance was also the first Indian Classical dance company to be awarded the CUNY Dance Initiative residency at Queens College and in the same year awarded the inaugural Dance/NYC Dance Advancement Fund. NBC recently featured the company in their NBC Learn program online, in a segment titled,”Bharatanatyam in the Modern World.” Jiva Dance’s first dance film short, “Urban Nritta,” created and conceived under her direction, was an official selection in the 2017 NY Indian Film Festival.
As an educator, she has given lecture demonstrations and workshops in museums and schools throughout the NYC area. Sonali is the first faculty member to teach Indian Classical Dance at the internationally acclaimed Joffrey Ballet School. In addition, Sonali was on the dance faculty at Sarah Lawrence College to teach Bharatanatyam. She uses her experience in teaching to develop engaging and enriching lecture demonstrations and workshops for professional dancers, students and teachers. Sonali also just finished recording Bharatanatyam lessons for Juilliard’s new online educational program. Most recently, Sonali is teaching and choreographing in Bharatanatyam at Queens College f0r 2019-2020.
Artist Statement: I was born in India and immigrated to the US at the age of 5. I have been an NYC resident for almost 30 years, and my work reflects the urban, dynamic and diverse atmosphere inherent in the city. My vision is to create work that expresses the evolving nature of Bharatanatyam. My work reflects centuries of technical refinement in the art as it has evolved from temples to the modern theatre and possesses a forward-thinking attitude with the goal to present the art to universal audiences regardless of language or religious background. I emphasize the creation of new art and collaborate with living composers and interdisciplinary artists to affirm the Indian classical arts as a dynamic, evolving form. My solo works also reflects my own personal connection with the art and its universal expression of human emotion.