September 14, 1956 |
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
|Occupation||Indian classical dancer, choreographer|
|Known for||Pandanallur style of Bharatnatyam|
Alarmel Valli (Tamil: அலர்மேல் வள்ளி) (born 14 September 1956) is an Indian classical dancer and choreographer, and the foremost exponent of the Pandanallur style Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam and also her own distinctive style. She is the founder of 'Dipashikha', a centre for fine arts in Chennai, established in 1984, where she also teaches Bharatnatyam.
In 1991, Alarmel Valli was the second youngest dancer to be conferred the President’s award of Padmasri after Vyjayanthimala. She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2001 by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama, followed by Padma Bhushan by Govt. of India in 2004.
Alarmel Valli was born and brought up in Chennai, where she did her schooling from The Sacred Heart Matriculation School, at Church Park, Chennai and later studied at the Stella Maris College, Chennai.
She has trained in the Pandanallur style of Bharat Natyam under Pandanallur Chokkalingam Pillai and his son Subbaraya Pillai. She has also studied music forms like Padams and Javalis under eminent musician T. Muktha, of the Veena Dhanammal style of music for many years.
She made her stage debut at an early age of 9 1/2 under the auspices of Indian Institute of Fine Arts, Madras and was conferred the Natya Kala Bhushan award and won her laurels on the International scene when she was barely 16 at the International Dance Festival of Theatre organised by the prestigious Sarah Bernhardt Théâtre de la Ville, in Paris, and has been performing ever since, both in India and aboard.
She also learned Odissi under Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and his disciple Guru Ramani Ranjan Jena, and studied classical Tamil literature anthologies of the 2000 years old, Sangam poetry. Over the years she has gradually evolved her own distinct style that extended her tradition within the broad framework of classical Bharatanatyam.
Alarmel Valli bases her dance on the principle that Bharatanatyam is a superbly evocative language, where the dancer who has mastered and internalised the idiom can write her personal dance poetry. In her choreography, drawing on her knowledge of music and the rich, nuanced vocabulary of classical Indian dance, Valli explores the complex layers of meaning in poems and lyrics, giving them a visual and melodic dimension. Trained by great masters, Pandanainallur Sri Chokkalingam Pillai and his son Sri Subbaraya Pillai, she has enriched her dance vocabulary and extended the frontiers of her dance tradition to evolve her own distinctive style, which has been described as “uniquely individualistic…an effortless synchronisation of apparent contradictions – linearity and lyricism, symmetry and sinuosity, precision and poetry”. Her work, while remaining within the framework of classical Indian dance, is contemporary in its interpretation and scope to communicate and has been lauded for creating an international awareness of Bharatanatyam, as a dynamic, continuously evolving, classical dance form.
In popular culture
A film on Alarmel Valli was made for the Omnibus series, on BBC One, by producer Michael Macintyre. Alarmel Valli has also been featured in dance documentaries by noted Indian producers like the late G. Aravindan and Prakash Jha, by the BBC (in The Spirit of Asia Series), the Netherlands Broadcasting Company, Arte (France) and Japanese National Television. The Films Division of India commissioned a film on her for the National Archives of India. Titled ‘Pravahi’, it has been directed by eminent film-maker Arun Khopkar, with cinematography by Madhu Ambat. In 2011, Lasya Kavya, a documentary about Alarmel Valli, won the National Film Award for Best Arts/Cultural Film.
Awards and honours
- 1969:The title of “Natyakalabhushanam” from the Indian Fine Arts Society.
- 1973:The title of ‘Singar Mani’ from the Sur Singar Sammelan, Bombay.
- 1975:Nrithyajothi from the Kalaniketan, Madras
- 1976:Bharatakala Tatvaprakasini from Chidambaram Devasthanam
- 1979: State award of Kalaimamani from Tamilnadu Government
- 1980: Nrithya Vikas, from Sur Singar, Bombay
- 1985: Nritya Choodamani, from the Krishna Gana Sabha (Madras).
- 1990: Adal Arasi, from The Tamilnadu Foundation, New Jersey, USA
- 1991: Padma Sri
- 1996: Nritya Urvashi, from Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh
- 1997: Awarded the Grande Medaille (Medal) by the City of Paris.
- 2002: Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
- 2003: Honoured by the Lalitha Kala Vedika Trust - Chennai
- 2003: Nritya Ratna from the Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan Kendra -Coimbatore
- 2004: Padma Bhushan
- 2004: Chevalier of Arts and Letters award from the French Government
- 2008:Padma Sadhana from the Padma Sarangapani Cultural Academy, Chennai
2009:sri guru award
- "Sparkling show of style: There was never a dull moment in Alarmel Valli’s performance.". The Hindu. Jan 07, 2009.
- "The best of music and dance". Express Buzz. 09 Jan 2010.
- "Transcending barriers: Alarmel Valli on the language of dance". Indian Express. Oct 02, 2008.
- Sangeet Natak Akademi Award:Bharat Natyam Sangeet Natak Akademi official website.
- "Padma Bhushan Awardees". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Archived from the original on 5 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
- Alarmel Valli Biography Govt. of Kerala.
- "Art is where the heart is". The Hindu. September 18, 2009.
- "Natural and poetic". The Hindu. January 6, 2010.
- Jack Anderson (June 23, 1991). "Review/Dance; Indian View Of Humanity And Divinity". The New York Times.
- "Hindi theatre is in a sad mess". The Hindu. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- "`Dancing takes me places'". The Hindu. Apr 13, 2004.