About Jiva Performing Arts

New directions in Indian Classical Dance and Music


Jiva Performing Arts preserves the artistic legacy as passed down and creates new works that affirm the relevance, vitality, and freshness of South Indian classical arts. .

Jiva Performing Arts’ mission is to develop and present new voices in the classical arts of India and increase appreciation and accessibility of these timeless arts for all communities.  Renowned Bharatanatyam dancer, Sonali Skandan and Carnatic musician/composer, Bala Skandan founded Jiva Performing Arts (Jiva) in 2007 in NYC to share their passion for South Indian classical dance and music. Jiva preserves the artistic legacy as passed down and creates new works that affirm the relevance, vitality, and freshness of South Indian classical arts.  The organization includes a professional, all-female dance company, Jiva Dance, Akshara Music Ensemble, and a School that provides comprehensive training from beginner through professional levels.

Jiva’s programming strives to illustrate that the traditional arts have a place of relevance in modern society by bringing classics forward, and incorporating contemporary elements that engage today’s audiences. In NYC, Jiva has held programming and performances at venues including: The Smithsonian,  Center, Juilliard, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Dixon Place, New School for Social Research, NYU Skirball,  Queens College, Symphony Space, and the 92nd Street Y, among many others. Through Jiva’s dedication to high quality artistic programming, as well as a close-knit and supportive community, Jiva has become one of the more visible South Asian Arts organizations in NYC.


Jiva’s artists are acclaimed artists who have performed internationally and have studied with the most revered teachers of Indian classical music and dance.
They have presented their work in major venues in the US, Europe, Canada and India. Jiva has produced notable music and dance productions, which highlight the classical arts of India. Jiva also presents international artists of Indian classical music and dance who tour the US.


Jiva fosters the creation of new artistic work, in both music and dance.

One of the core activities of Jiva is to foster the growth of the Indian classical arts, which means to not only preserve the artistic legacy as passed down by the traditional Gurus and teachers of the art, but to also create new and innovative works which have their base in the classical arts. This pertains to new musical compositions and new dance choreographies.

Jiva supports the collaboration of Indian classical artists with world genres of music and dance as well as other artistic medium such as the visual arts and literature.



Jiva supports the research of the classical arts of India, from both an academic and practical standpoint.

Research involves the collection of secondary sources such as published works on Indian classical art, as well as primary sources such as interviews and the documentation of teachers and performing artists of India. Jiva hopes to ultimately create a resource library where students and professionals in the US can access these resources.