(Last Updated on : 11/08/2015)
For Sonali Skandan 'Bharatanatyam is more than a dance for; it is a means of expression and joy. Combining powerful rhythmically intense footwork, graceful and lyrical postures, and dramatic story-telling, Bharatanatyam
is a confluence of many artistic genres; from dance to theatre to music and literature.'
This consecrated performer of the tradition old art from of Dance, Bharatnatyam, Sonali Skandan has been trained under the great far famed dancer and teacher, Professor CV Chandrasekhar of Chennai, India. Being a dancer, choreographer, researcher, musician, academician, composer and highly acclaimed teacher of Bharatanatyam, Professor CV Chandrasekhar is a many-sided persona. She has also undergone training under the tutelage of Smt. Jaya Chandrasekhar and Smt. Manjari Chandrasekhar, daughter of Professor CV Chandrasekhar.
Sonali Skandan has also received training in an extensive manner under Smt. Thejeswni Raj. The most intrinsic attributes of dance, 'Abhinaya', which is considered to be the 'art of expression', she has learnt from Smt. Bragha Bessell of Chennai, India. Apart from being an accomplished Bharatnatyam dancer, Sonali has also enriched her style of dance with her training in Carnatic music
(under Shobana Raj), South Indian vocal percussion (mridangam) under Shri A.R. Balaskandan and yoga
. Under Bhagavatalu Shri Seetharama Sharma of Chennai, India, Sonali Skandan is learning 'Nattuvangam'. Besides all this classical training, she has also received training in western dance forms from a very tender age. In the year 2007, she has also participated at the Martha Graham Summer Intensive course.
Sonali Skandan has staged many compositions to her credits and the essence of her work is education. This Masters degree holder in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University has played a key role in establishing an arts education high school, Heritage School, in Manhattan. Some of productions composed by Sonali are: 'Urban Kutcheri' staged in the year 2006, premiered at Joyce So/Ho and 'Bharatanatyam Margam' in the year 2004 at the Lighthouse Theatre. She has also exhibited solo performances.
To mention a few: Borough of Manhattan Community College in the year 2007; Gateway to India Festival: ABS Carpet & Home in the same year; in the year 2006, Karthik Fine Arts December Music & Dance Festival Chennai, India; Sampradaya: Celebrating Tradition at the Arch Studios NYC; Columbia University Guria Festival; CUNY Graduate Center, NYC; Harkness Dance Center Fridays@Noon, NYC; Rubin Museum of Art: "Sikh Childrens Stories through Indian Music and Dance"; in the year 2005, "Sunil Kothari presents: Classical Indian Dance Forms: Tradition in Transition", Arch Studios, NYC; Solo performances at Hamsadhwani and Nungambakkam Cultural Academy, Chennai, India in both the year 2005 and 2006; solo performance for Hema Rajan at Hamsadhwani, Chennai, India 2005-2006; in the year 2005, Full length recital at the Hindu Temple Society of North America, New York; Rubin Museum of Art, New York; Dance/Now NYC Festival, New York; Downtown Dance Festival, New York; Fida International Dance Festival, Toronto, Canada; Warren Art Space, Brooklyn, NY; Tradewinds 2005 Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center's United States Of Asian America Festival, San Francisco, CA; The Door, New York, NY; Sounds of the East and Sounds of the West, hosted by Indian Consulate and Salon de Virtuosi; New York University, Sargam, Festival of South Asian Art; Hunter College, NY; NY Chef's Cooking for Life.,Tsunami Fundraiser; ABC Carpet & Home; in the year 2004, South Asian Women's Creative Collective, Annual Performance Benefit, Gallery ArtsIndia, NY; Project Voice, AFSC; Queens Museum of Art; in the year 2003, SALAAM theatre 3rd Monday series, New York; Chakra Shri Mini-Confluence, Queens, New York; South Asian Women's Creative Collective Monthly Showcase, New York.
Some group performances executed by Sonali have received well appreciation throughout the world. Performance with Rajika Puri & Dancers: Conversations with Shiva. Joyce/SoHo in the year 2007; in the year 2004, Lincoln Center Out of Doors; New York City Mayor's Office South Asian Night; Hindu Center Fundraising Gala, Adria Convention Center, New York; in the year Broome Center Choreographers Showcase, New York. Featured Bharatanatyam choreographer and dancer in the fusion piece by Maura Lee entitled Harvest; September 11th Memorial Dance Festival at Chelsea Piers, New York. Featured Bharatanatyam dancer in the fusion piece by Maura Lee entitled Harvest; Chakra Shri Dance Theatre company dancer. Performed in various schools, hospital and community centers in the New York City area. Including, the Woodhull Hospital, Andrews Academy, Harlem Hospital, Jewish Cultural Center, Queens, etc are few to note. Other than these performances, she has also performed at New York City Mayors Office, South Asian Night; World Sacred Dance Festival/ Rangoli Festival, Los Angeles, CA. Trinethra for Chakra Shri Dance, (she was one of 3 dancers from Chakra Shri Dance to perform); Hindu Temple Society of North America, Flushing, Queens. Participated in a Chakra Shri dance ballet entitled Tasmai Shri Guruvai Namaha; Hindu Youth Group, New Jersey; as Sita in the Chakra Shri dance ballet entitled Bhavayami Ragu Ramam; Confluence Festival, Queens, New York; etc.
Sonali Skandan like many other noted dancers have also conducted several lecture demonstration to her credit. To name a few lecture demonstrations conducted by her are: Family Workshop at IS25, Queens, NY in the year 2007; Teaching Artist Residency at PS56, Queens, NY in the same year; ABC Carpet & Home "Gateway to India" Festival in the year 2007; Brooklyn Montessori School, United Nations International School in the year 2006; "The Gods and Goddesses of India," Rubin Museum of Art, Family Programs in the year 2005; Brooklyn Friends School. Taught Bharatantyam workshop to dance students, which culminated in a student showcase to benefit the Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai, India in the year 2005; Introduction to Bharatanatyam Worksop for SAYA! (South Asian Youth Action) in the year 2005; Story-telling workshop for preschool children at the House of Little People, New York, NY in the same year; Lecture demonstration for artists of PURE (Public Urban Ritual Experiment) in 2004; 1998-2001: Presented Bharatanatyam in public schools all over Brooklyn and Manhattan with Trilok Fusion.
Apart from performing in various occasions, Sonali Skandan has also featured in films. In the year 2005, she has been featured in 'Kalinga Narthanam'. The film was produced for India Television (ITV). For India Television (ITV) performances, she has performed 'group Saraswati project'. In the year 2004, she has performed in the film produced by Mumtaj Ismail, 'Red Feet'. The film based on the story of a girl's dream to become a Bharatanatyam dancer. She has also performed at theatre, titled 'Heer Ranjha', directed by Sridhar Shanmugam in the year 2003. She played the role of 'Heer'. This theatre was produced for the Confluence Festival in Queens. She has also exhibited her brilliance apart from dancing on the dance writings. To her credit she has written "Interview with Mallika Sarrabhai", "Falling for Dance", "There Is No Shiva Without Shakti: Feminine and Masculine Interplay in Indian Classical Dance" and "Jonathan Hollader: Following Destiny".
Throughout all her execution, her teaching experience has been reflecting. Her teaching experience has helped her to improve the lecture demonstrations and workshops that she conducts for professional dancers, students and teachers. She has bagged the honor of teaching at the 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.
At the Teachers College Conference for Asian-American Teachers, she has executed a workshop entitled "Teaching South Asia through Indian Classical Dance". Sonali Skandan has also been working as the 'Teacher Artist' for the aspirant young audiences who resides at New York. She is also conducting a course at New York University's Coles Center, 'the Basics of Bharatanatyam'. Through Sonali's work, the level of quality and the devotion towards the dance form that reflects Bharatnatyam rose to the degree from which it can be considered as the pure art form. Her western upbringing never comprehends her dedication towards Indian classical dance Bharatnatyam. Sonali Skandan through her execution aims in bridging the gap of cultural boundaries. At the same time she is endlessly striving to present this traditional art form into a very clear manner.