Nrithya Pillai

Indian Bharathanatyam dancer gesturing

Nrithya Pillai is a dancer, dance composer, singer, writer, speaker, and dance instructor who proudly claims her nattuvanar-devadasi lineage. Following the legacy of her maternal grandfather Swamimalai Rajarathnam Pillai, she consciously preserves and reanimates the rich repertoire and the teaching and choreographic practices of her celebrated ancestors, who include V. Meenakshisundaram Pillai, T.K Swaminatha Pillai and Padmashri Vazhuvoor B. Ramiah Pillai. Carving out her own space as a performer with impeccable training and vast creativity, Nrithya represents a new kind of artistic and intellectual engagement with the troubled history of Bharathanatyam.  She vigorously challenges the power relationships and ideologies that made the form unavailable to women of her community, and advocates fiercely for the restoration of credit for Bharathanatyam technique, repertoire, and philosophy to the hereditary community of practitioners. Nrithya’s voice, raised against casteism in the contemporary dance world, is unique in the field today, and her message against historical misrepresentation is relevant and powerful.