Alarmél Valli is a celebrated Bharata Natyam dancer and choreographer, internationally acclaimed for her ability to turn a traditional grammar into a subtle, deeply internalized, personal dance poetry. Her dance, while rooted in the classical tradition, has been lauded as an undeniable language of self-expression that is dynamic and continuously evolving, able to connect with audiences across the board, from the specialist to the layperson.
Having trained under legendary gurus, Pandanallur Sri Chokkalingam Pillai and his son Sri Subbaraya Pillai, she has evolved a distinctive style of dance that has been described as, “classical and yet contemporary, precise and poetic… both a stylised idiom and an idiolect, blurring the boundaries between tradition and the individual talent, inheritance and invention.”
In recognition of Alarmél Valli’s contribution to dance, in 2004, she was awarded one of India’s highest civilian honours – the ‘Padma Bhushan’, conferred by the President of India. In the same year, the Government of France conferred on her the Chevalier of Arts and Lettres. Amongst numerous awards received, are the President’s award of “Padmasri”, the Tamilnadu State Government award of Kalaimamani, the ‘Grande Medaille de la Ville de Paris’ from the City of Paris and the Award of the Sangeet Natak Akademy- the apex body for music, dance and drama in India.
In 2004, The Films Division of India commissioned a film on Alarmél Valli for the Indian National Archives called ‘Pravahi’, which was directed by Arun Khopkar. The BBC also made a film on her for the Omnibus series. In 2012, ‘Lasya Kavya – The World of Alarmél Valli’, a film on her by Sankalp Meshram, won the National Award for Best Film on Art and Culture.
Alarmél Valli’s work has been featured at landmark theatres and festivals in India and abroad. Some of the international cultural venues at which she has performed include – the Bolshoi Theatre, the Theatre De La Ville, the Avignon Festival, the Lyon Biennale, the Vienna International Dance Festival, The Munich Opera Festival, The Edinburgh Festival, the Royal Albert Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the New York International Festival of Arts,The Kennedy Centre, the Min-On Festival in Japan, the Venice Biennale, The Madrid Festival, the Helsinki Biennale, the Frankfurt Alte Oper and The Israel Festival.
In 1986, Valli founded the Dipasikha Dance Foundation and Educational Trust. Through lecture demonstrations, master classes, workshops and seminars in India and abroad, Valli shares her thoughts on Bharatanatyam, as a dynamic, contemporary dance language. A few of the forums in which she has worked, include Spic Macay in India, the Societe Italiana del Flauto Dolce, The Philharmonic society in Rome, the International Sommertanzwochen in Vienna, The Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society and Universities across the US.
Bio from Alarmel Valli’s website.