Jiva Dance, founded in 2007 and under the artistic direction of Sonali Skandan, is a critically acclaimed dance company based in NYC.
Jiva Dance strives to present work that is inclusive, universal and challenging. Jiva Dance explores the intersections of classicism, modernity and experimental. Jiva Dance is not tied to Bharatanatyam’s cultural specificity, but creates work that reflects our lives in a diverse urban environment. Jiva Dance holds the belief that tradition is a continuum of evolution and hopes to invigorate classical works with a freshness and unique voice.
As a Company, we feel the vocabulary of movement and expression has the ability to transcend both time and culture. The work we create seeks to expose the dynamism inherent in Bharatanatyam by incorporating modern ideas, movement patterns and music. The Company creates original works that and reenergizes classical pieces with innovative staging concepts. We believe that Indian classical dance is a living, breathing, holistic art form, and is not fixed but is continually evolving.
Jiva Dance has received considerable recognition in the press and has been recognized as a leader in the arts. Jiva Dance presented work in major venues in the US, becoming the first Indian Classical dance company to be presented at the prestigious Victory Dance Series at the New Victory Theater, the first Indian Classical company to be part of the CUNY Dance Initiative (2017 and 2018) at Queens College Jiva Dance was also featured on NBC Learn, in a short documentary titled ‘Why We Dance.’ Jiva Dance’s first dance film short, ‘Urban Nritta,’ has received much attention, and was an official selection in the 17th NY Indian Film Festival. The Company continues to receive choreographic commissions from a wide range of arts organizations. Jiva has been the recipient of National Endowment for the Arts grants, New York State Council on the Arts awards, NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs awards and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council awards. Jiva Dance was the inaugural recipient of the Dance/NYC Dance Advancement Fund and receives ongoing private donations to continue its work from its supportive patrons and community base.
“These dancers turns their bodies into a language; as if every hand-motion or foot stomp is a hieroglyphic. By the end of their act, you swear they could be painted on the sacred walls of pyramids because they are so visually potent.”
Founder & Director
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 India and is receiving creative mentorship with senior dance artist Maya Kulkarni. Learn more about Sonali Skandan here.
“Eye gestures, smiles of irony, and wistful tilts of the head make the movements of the cosmos visible on a human scale.”
Swati Prasad Swati Prasad is an Indian movement practitioner with over 10 years of experience in Odissi, Kalaripayattu and Yoga. Swati has worked and performed extensively across India. She moved to NYC to pursue her graduate degree in Arts management at The New School and is currently building her passion project ( The co-flow project) to develop a platform for interdisciplinary and intercultural artists who create radical works and challenge the socio-cultural norms in the society. Both as a performer and teacher, Swati has found artistic purpose and identity through traditional Indian movement practices. She finds immense joy and fulfilment in guiding others on the journey of self-discovery through the wisdom of traditional movement practices. . Outside her dancing world, Swati finds her creative spirit in creating recipes inspired from her many travels.
“Bharatanatyam has well and truly entered the 21st century as it engages with an increasingly wide range of themes and ideas, pushing into thought-provoking political and socio-cultural realms, the abstract and the concrete, and embracing the myths, stories and issues of the world at large.”