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Devayani [Bharatanatyam Exponent]

"For me Bharata Natyam is the art of tuning oneself to the innermost beat of the world."

Devayani is a French National Born in Paris. In her formative years, she was nurtured in Classical Ballet at the Schola Cantorum in Paris. She holds a degree of Master of Arts in French and English Literature from Sorbonne University.

The Bharata Natyam Dance sequence she witnessed in the film 'Phantom India' directed by Louis Malle motivated her to learn this ancient temple dance form. Subsequently, she was awarded a scholarship under the Indo-French Cultural Exchange Programme to learn Bharata Natyam in India. Devayani was placed under the tutelage of renowned gurus including Guru K.G. Ellapa Mudaliar in Madras and Kalaimamani V.S.Muthuswami Pillai.

During the period of her early training in Bharata Natyam, it became evident that she embodied in abundance a natural talent and inborn gifts for music and dance which later projected her to a position of pre-eminence. Today Devayani is the foremost exponent of Bharata Natyam in India and internationally. In the initial stages of training under eminent gurus she grasped the beauty, rhythm and spiritual power of this nearly 3000 year old dance form which was performed exclusively in South Indian temples for invoking the blessings of the temple deity.

Soon after her initial training in Bharata Natyam, her debut performance was witnessed by a distinguished audience which included the film director Srinivasan who was engaged in a production of a film titled 'A Girl From America' (America Ammayi). Even though she didn't know the indigenous language, Devayani was given the lead role as the most important sequences of the film were focused on dances in the Chidambaram temple, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva who according to Hindu Mythology is the God of Dance. The film was a box office hit.

Devayani was so captivated by the beauty and spiritual qualities of Bharata Natyam that a conviction developed within her that a dance dedicated to the Gods from time immemorial should not be confined to India alone and with its pristine beauty is a befitting instrument for developing harmony, peace, understanding and goodwill in the world and that traditional art and culture should not be fettered by international boundaries. She made it her life's mission to promote, preserve and perpetuate for posterity, its purity and glory without any embellishment.

In order to understand, assimilate and imbibe the essence of Bharata Natyam, Devayani spent considerable time with several gurus of the dance forms. This enabled her to develop a vast repertoire of dance compositions which have been preserved by her through audio and video recordings, notations, slides and photographs.

Visit Devayani's website.

Awards

  • Awarded the Indo-French Cultural Exchange Programme Scholarship, studied in Madras
  • Awarded the I.C.C.R. Scholarship for four years, New Delhi
  • Grant from the French Embassy, New Delhi
  • Award at International Choreography Contest, Nyon, Switzerland
  • Award for 'Exemplary contribution to the art and tradition of Bharata Natyam', South Central Zonal Cultural Center (S.C.Z.C.C.), India
  • Award for 'Exemplary contribution to the art and tradition of Bharata Natyam', North Central Zonal Cultural Center (N.C.Z.C.C.), India
  • Assisted by Dept of Culture, Ministry of Human Resource and Development, New Delhi for the production of 'Devadasi'
  • In the year 1999, the Andhra Pradesh Cultural Society conferred 'Award of Achievement of Excellence in her field' on Devayani
  • Classified as 'Eminent Artist', by the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, New Delhi
  • Best Dancer's Award, Hellas Dance Festival 2001
  • The '2004 Top Cultural Ambassador Award for Excellence' was awarded to Devayani by the Institute of Marketing & Management in New Delhi. This honour was conferred on her in recognition of her outstanding contribution in the internationalization of Bharata Natyam

Special Distinctions

Selected by the ARTS COUNCIL of England as "The First Asian Dancer Artist in Residence" to promote Indian Dance and Culture in U.K., Artist in residence at 'Dance City', Newcastle upon Tyne National Dance Agency. Conducted a workshop for the famed 'Ballet Rambert' Dance Company. T.V and stage shows during the Residency.

Devayani had the distinction to perform at a function held to celebrate the Birthday of the Queen of Denmark in New Delhi. Devayani performed for the United Nations' Day in New Delhi, India's Republic Day Celebrations in Germany, the 50th anniversary of India's Independence in Greece.

Performed for Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's Birth Celebrations in France, Finland, Denmark, Germany

Inaugurated 'India Vision 98' in Athens with her performance

Workshops, Lecture-Demonstrations

By conducting master classes, lecture-demonstrations, workshops and participating in seminars, Devayani has developed internationally an understanding, an awareness of Bharata Natyam as a powerful expression of Temple Art. The forums with which she has been associated include:

  • The East West Dance Encounter, Mumbai, India
  • The International Dance Workshop, Bonn, Germany
  • Workshop with Ballet Rambert, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • The Commonwealth Institute, London, UK
  • The American College of Greece, Athens, Greece

Performances in India

Arangetram - Rasika Ranjani Sabha, Madras; The Indian Council of Cultural Relations Auditorium, Kamani Hall, The Convention Hall, Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts, India Habitat Center, Triveni theatre, Sapru House, AIFACS, Sri Ram Center for the Performing arts, UNDP, the residence of The Ambassador of Denmark; Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh; Alliance Francaise Auditorium, New Delhi, sponsored by ONGC; Uttaranchal Formation Day, Dehradun; Mamallapuram Dance Festival,Tamil Nadu; Taj Mahotsav, Agra; BHEL International Club, Haridwar; BHEL Jhansi, BHEL Bhopal, Poorva Sanskriti Kendra, Delhi; Kalidas Festival Nov. 2006, Nagpur, Invited by Maharashtra Tourism Taramati Music, Hyderabad & Dance Festival Dec.2006, Invited by Andhra Pradesh Tourism; Concert with Renowned Musicians: Talat Aziz, Ghazal at Kalidas Festival Nov.2006, Nagpur; Press Reviews: 'Devayani, Aziz regale audience', City Pulse, Lokmat Time

International Performances

  • Palais des Congres Salle Bleue, Paris
  • Tourism & Travel Congress, Madrid
  • Award at International Choreography Contest, Nyon, Switzerland
  • International Dance workshop, Bonn, Germany
  • India's Republic Day Celebrations, Germany
  • Indian Cultural Center 1999, Tagore Hall 2001, Berlin
  • SAMS Stavenger, Indian Festival, Oslo
  • Savoy theatre, Helsinki, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru's Birth Centenary Celebrations 1989 tour, Finland
  • Nikolaj Kirje, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru's Birth Centenary Celebrations 1989 tour, Denmark
  • Villa Louvini, 1991, Luxembourg
  • Indian Cultural Festival, 1992 Sockholm, Sweden
  • Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Concert Halls, London
  • October Gallery, London
  • International Gardens Festival, Liverpool
  • Commonwealth Institute, London
  • 'Festival of India through French eyes' London
  • Royal Commonwealth Festival, Bristol
  • Dance World 1996, London
  • Nehru Center, 1997 & 2001, London
  • International Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 87, 88, 89, 92, 93 & 97
  • India Vision 98, Athens, 50th Anniversary of India's Independence
  • Orient 98, Eesti concert hall, Tallinn, Estonia
  • XXIV ALGARVE INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL, 2000. Devayani was given topbillings with the great Opera Singer Luciano PAVAROTTI.
  • Indian Landscapes 2000, Argilla Teatri, Rome
  • Best Dancer's Award, Hellas Dance Festival 2001, Veakion Amphitheatre Athens, Pierce Theatre, the American College of Greece, Athens 2002
  • WORLD CULTURE OPEN 2004, Seoul, Korea, selected to represent India in Traditional Indian Dance.188 Participants, 44 Countries.
  • Oct '06 24 to 29: "20th WORLD CONGRESS ON DANCE RESEARCH", Peace & Friendship Stadium,Athens,Greece.

Contact Details

D-1065, New Friends Colony,
New Delhi - 1100065
Telefax: 00-91-11-26910538
Mobile: 00-91-11-9810911944