Sonali is a devoted and passionate disciple of Bharatanatyam and is under the guidance of the renowned dancer and teacher, Professor CV Chandrasekhar of Chennai, India. She also studies Abhinayam (the art of expression) with Smt. Bragha Bessell of Chennai, India. Prior to that, she trained extensively under Smt. Thejeswni Raj. Sonali's studies in dance include both theoretical and practical aspects. Sonali has furthered her training in dance by studying Carnatic music, South Indian vocal percussion (mridangam) and yoga. Sonali has also trained in western dance forms since a young age. She also attended the Martha Graham Summer Intensive course in 2007.
Her original productions include Urban Kutcheri (2006, premiered at Joyce So/Ho) and Bharatanatyam Margam (2004 Lighthouse Theatre). Sonali has performed regularly at venues all over the US, Canada and India including the American Museum of Natural History, Clark Studio at Lincoln Center, Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, Merce Cunningham Dance Studio, the Queens Museum of Art, the Hindu Temple Society of North America, the New York City Mayor's Office. Notable Festivals include the Chennai Music and Dance Festival, the fFida International Dance Festival 2005 in Toronto and the Tradewinds Asian American Festival 2005 in San Francisco. Sonali also participated in the World Sacred Dance Festival 2002 in Los Angeles, CA. In addition, she is the featured Bharatanatyam dancer in a short film by Mumtaj Ismail entitled "Red Feet." Sonali has also been involved in many dance collaborations with notable contemporary choreographers, including Sridhar Shanmugam, Maia Ramnath and Maura Lee. Sonali has also danced with Rajika Puri & Dancers at the Joyce/SoHo (2007).
A core component of Sonali's work involves education. Sonali holds a Masters degree in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and has been instrumental in starting up an arts education high school, Heritage School, in Manhattan. She uses her experience in teaching to develop engaging and enriching lecture demonstrations and workshops for professional dancers, students and teachers. She has taught at venues such as the Rubin Museum of Art, Brooklyn Friends School, the Door NYC, South Asian Youth Action youth groups as well as New York City public schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn. She also presented a workshop entitled "Teaching South Asia through Indian Classical Dance" at the Teachers College Conference for Asian-American Teachers. Sonali is a Teaching Artist for Young Audiences New York and presents performances and dance residencies throughout the NYC area. Sonali is teaching a course entitled the Basics of Bharatanatyam at New York University's Coles Center.Sonali's passion for Bharatanatyam stems from its spirituality, its intricate beauty and grace. Sonali's work reflects a high-level quality and dedication to the pure art form. By combining her devotion to the dance with her western upbringing, Sonali hopes to bridge the cultural boundaries and present Bharatanatyam in a clear and enlightening manner.
For more about Sonali Skandan, please visit her at her website.
Sonali Skandan can be reached at dancingSonali@earthlink.net