TriNethra- The Third eye festival – 2023

When creativity springs off from research, the product is a work that touches one’s soul.  Sonali’s presentation showed her dedication to dance.  She was in excellent form, which showed her intensive training.  Each of the three compositions was well thought out and a lot of work was put into them in terms of movements, music, concept, research and costume.  Music complimented the concept, movements complimented the music and emotion came alongside music and movements.  It was overall a soul stirring performance.

-Suman Adisesh
Creative Director of Spandha School of Dance and Creative Arts. 

What My Teacher Taught Me: Sonali Skandan on Maya Kulkarni

Stepping away from the traditional expectations of this art form and creating her own path has inspired me to take risks in my own career. Maya has taught me, through example, that boundaries aren’t fixed and to not box myself in to a particular way of doing something.

I teach these same lessons to my own students today, and see elements of Maya’s mentorship in all of my work. I also strive to find new patterns of movement and modes of expression now. For example, I just did a dance about the sun rising and falling in the day. Rather than relating it to a fixed narrative, I created imagery and embodied it myself. Rather than showing sprouts sprouting through gestures, I became the sprouts myself. It’s Maya’s vision that has inspired me to approach movement this way.
BY SONALI SKANDAN, AS TOLD TO HALEY HILTON, Dance Magazine, November 19, 2021

Anita Says...

“Sonali Skandan has been curator, producer and performer throughout this pandemic. Her JIVA ARTS has been at the forefront of creating online digital commissions for various US based dancers. In this offering for DANCING FOR THE GODS, Sonali titled her performance THE SUN UNTO A DAY, exploring the heat, warmth and life giving force of the solar rays. The juxtaposition of her slim, almost wraith-like frame against the cyclorama showed vulnerability and hope. Using Bharatanatyam as her foundation, Sonali super imposed visuals of another film where her frame was silhouetted against the sun, a warm orb in the horizon across the waters. This was a smart way of using film to amplify the visual impact of her choreographic motifs.”
-Anita Ratnam,, 2021

Jiva Brings Four Horsewomen To New Haven

“The sound of drums and classical Indian strings spread over the room as the lights dimmed to blue. On stage, a group of dancers swept in, waist and ankle bells keeping time with their bare feet as they tap-tapped across the stage. They cycled in an out, binding their bodies with an age-old story of the Apocalypse before casting it in a totally new light….At the end, all four of the women came together to dance on the stage, showing how their energy could come together. Individually, they seemed to say, their suffering was inevitable. But told together, maybe their stories suggested there was another way.”
-Jamiah Green, New Haven Arts, 2019


The act was done with a lot of energy and pace. Sonali came across as a dancer with a lot of technique, and her expressive eyes easily portrayed the emotional transition of Meenakshi amma on seeing Shiva….The nritta interludes were very appropriate, but her expressions were the high point of her abhinaya. She has beautiful eyes which can express a lot.”
-Sweta Arora, Delhi Culture Comment, 2019

The Ballet Review Fall-Winter 2019

“Tightly choreographed and interestingly varied choral interludes for the four horsemen sweep the action along, bind the apocalyptic solos into a unified composition, and showcase the technical proficiency of these capable dancers…I found this work to be an exciting development that demonstrates the strong voices and talented proponents of Indian classical arts who are creating and performing stimulating work right here in the United States.”
-Karen Greenspan, The Ballet Review, Fall-Winter 2019

The Four Horsemen Review

“Also, 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.”

“The dancing, by all four dancers, was absolutely top-notch. The choreography was outstanding, and the whole production was tightly woven together and perfectly executed.”
-Kamini Dandapani,, 2019


“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. “

“Each of these women, as horsemen/ humans, chose a role, and their sufferings measured whether they were worthy of it. From being a lover to being a mother, it is a tricky question to ask if suffering is deserved or necessary because, in the end, it simply is apart of life. Yet, Four Horsemen asked its audience to see pain like a roadblock; it only hinders path until you, finally, finish building over it.”
-Diandra Reviews, Diandra Reviews It All, 2019

Review: Erasing Borders Festival of Indian Dance, a Showcase of Dizzying Movement

The interplay of the sculptural and rhythmic aspects of Indian dance was compelling…riveting” 
-By Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, 2015

Intriguing dance dramas on American soil

‘The Four Horsemen’ by Jiva Performing Arts, New York, was an intriguing production that raised anticipation. It depicted the four vignettes of life and death – conquest, war, famine and death. It was choreographed by Sonali Skandan and Maya Kulkarni with music by Rajkumar Bharathi. The four dancers Sonali Skandan, Aishwarya Madhav, Amrita Doshi and Bharathi Penneswaran were at their artistic best. The group choreography focused and coordinated with musical patterns. The energy of the quartet provided a beautiful climax. Sonali Skandan did a wonderful job of infusing traditional art form to present something abstract and the experience was unique.
Jayashree Anand, Anita Sanjeeva review of American Natya Festival St. Louis, MO,, 2019

Erasing Borders Festival of Dance 2012

“The ensemble performed three works, of which the most vivid was perhaps Shadjam, a vignette that depicted a group of girls preparing for a visit by Shiva, in his lover-man guise. As they combed each other’s hair and praised each other’s beauty (in mime), I could see the next group preparing in a tent off-stage, busy with similar tasks. For a moment, art intermingled with life.”
-Marina Harss, The Faster Times, 2012

Erasing Borders, Downtown Dance Festival, New York

“It is this devotional aspect of Indian dance that latter-day choreographers tend to emphasise, as did American Bharata Natyam practitioner Sonali Skandan with a section of Swarupa: Infinite Form, a meditative ensemble piece less to do with the gods than with our worship of them.”
-Apollinaire Scherr, Financial Times, 2012

Indian Dance via Bollywood, by Way of Russia, Near Wall Street

“Technical precision and geometric skill…” – Erasing Borders Festival of Dance 2012
By Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, 2012

Erasing Borders Festival of Indian Dance – New York

“The choreography – full of statuesque balances and sharp lines formed by the arms – was attractively modest and had simple but powerful geometries..”
Ryan Wenzel,, 2012

Mayura:Blue Peacock, Chen Dance Center 2014

“The choreography was an impressive blending of the strength inherent in the technical aspects of the form and the exuberant emotions that exist in the stories being told…Her [Sonali Skandan] charisma on stage permeated every piece and drew the eyes of the audience as she shifted her gaze in conjunction with the movement.”
-Annie Woller,, 2014

Swarupa Infinite Form, NY International Fringe Festival 2011

“Skandan’s sharp control and stunning speed culminate in ecstasy….Skandan’s choreography here has a follow-through of motion that is somehow natural yet tense with the pull of mystery.”, 2011

The New York International Fringe Festival is an international bonanza

“In ‘Swarupa: Infinite Form,’ the Indian dancer Sonali Skandan rises above the pull-and-tug of history…Skandan and her dancers are never less than correct.”
-By Robert Johnson, For The Star-Ledger, 2011

Life After Fringe: Two Dance Companies to Watch

“Life After Fringe: Two Dance Companies to Watch “Two of this year’s most impressive pieces came from companies specializing in narrative dance, and their energy, discipline and passion bodes well for the future. Choreographer Sonali Skandan pays close attention to the details (wherein God resides, according to the old adage). Small, subtle movements are as much a part of the story as the large angular and sinuous shapes created by colorfully clad limbs in motion. Eye gestures, smiles of irony, and wistful tilts of the head make the movements of the cosmos visible on a human scale.”
-Ethan Kanfer, California Literary Review, 2011

Ancient Art In A Modern Package

“The entire event was a well choreographed production and showcased the artists in a unique manner…kudos to the artists for creating something new and beautiful without compromising the quality of the art.”
-Ranjani Saigal,, 2007