|Occupation||Indian classical dancer, choreographer|
|Known for||Pandanallur style of Bharatnatyam|
Alarmel Valli is a leading Indian classical dancer and choreographer and the foremost exponent of the Pandanallur style, in the Indian classical dance form, Bharatanatyam. She is widely acclaimed for her ability to turn a traditional grammar into a deeply internalized, personal dance poetry.
In 1991, Alarmel Valli was the second youngest dancer to be conferred the Padmasri from the Government of India, after Vyjayanthimala. She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2001 by India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama, followed by one of India's highest civilian honours - the Padma Bhushan award from the Government of India in 2004 and Chevalier of Arts and Letters award from the Government of France, also in 2004.
Alarmel Valli was born and brought up in Chennai, where she did her schooling from The Sacred Heart Matriculation School, Church Park, Chennai. She graduated with a BA degree in English literature from the Stella Maris College, Chennai. She trained in the Pandanallur style of Bharatanatyam from the age of six, under renowned Gurus, Pandanallur Chokkalingam Pillai and his son Pandanallur Subbaraya Pillai. She studied music under T. Muktha, of the Veena Dhanammal style of music for many years, with a focus on Padams and Javalis. She also trained in Odissi under Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and his disciple Guru Ramani Ranjan Jena.
She made her stage debut at an early age of 9 1/2 under the auspices of The Indian Institute of Fine Arts, Madras and was conferred the Natya Kala Bhushan award. She won her laurels on the International scene when she was barely 16 at the International Dance Festival of the prestigious Sarah Bernhardt Théâtre de la Ville, in Paris, and has been performing in landmark theatres and festivals ever since, both in India and aboard.
Her research into classical Tamil literature and the anthologies of the 2000 year old Sangam poetry has resulted in a significant repertoire of dance poems. Over the years she has evolved her own distinct style, within the framework of classical Bharatanatyam.[
Among her leading students are Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramswamy of the Ragamala Dance Company, Minneapolis and Meenakshi Srinivasan.
Some highlights of Alarmél Valli's career internationally, include her performances at the Bolshoi Theatre, The Vienna International Dance Festival, The Munich Opera Festival, The Edinburgh Festival, The New York International Festival of Arts, The Avignon Festival, The Cervantino Festival, the Lyon Biennale, The Venice Biennale, The Royal Albert Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, The Helsinki Biennale, The Millennium Festival in Berlin and The Frankfurt Alt Oper. In July 2015, she was the first Indian classical dancer to perform at the Salzburg Festival.
In popular culture
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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 by award-winning director, Sankalp Meshram, won the National Film Award for Best Arts/Cultural Film.
Selected awards and honours
- 1979: State award of Kalaimamani from Tamil Nadu Government
- 1980: Nrithya Vikas, from Sur Singar, Mumbai
- 1985: Nritya Choodamani, from Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai.
- 1991: Padma Sri from the Government of India.
- 1997: Awarded the Grande Medaille (Medal) by the City of Paris.
- 2002: Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, New Delhi
- 2004: Padma Bhushan from the Government of India
- 2004: Chevalier of Arts and Letters award from the Government of France
- 2012: Naatya Padmam from Brahma Gana Sabha, Chennai
- 2014: Natya Utsav Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai
- 2015: Natya Kala Acharya award from The Music Academy, Chennai
- 2018: Nritya Peroli award from Karthik Fine Arts, Chennai
- "Sparkling show of style: There was never a dull moment in Alarmel Valli's performance". The Hindu. 7 January 2009.
- "The best of music and dance". Express Buzz. 9 January 2010. Archived from the original on 18 May 2012.
- "Transcending barriers: Alarmel Valli on the language of dance". Indian Express. 2 October 2008.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Padma Bhushan Awardees". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Archived from the original on 5 June 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2009.
- Alarmel Valli Biography[permanent dead link], keralawomen.gov.in; accessed 13 May 2017.
- "Art is where the heart is ..." The Hindu. 18 September 2009.
- "Natural and poetic". The Hindu. 6 January 2010.
- Jack Anderson (23 June 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.
- "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Dancing takes me places". The Hindu. 13 April 2004. Archived from the original on 10 June 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2010.