Sonali is a passionate and accomplished disciple of Bharatanatyam and one of the emerging artists of the younger generation based outside of India. She is a student of the renowned Professor C.V. Chandrasekhar of Chennai, India. and also receives training from Smt. Bragha Bessell, known for the art of abhinaya (expression). Sonali's initial training was under Smt Thejeswini Raj. Noted for her clear and clean technique as well as eloquent abhinaya, Sonali has presented solo and group Bharatanatyam at major dance festivals and venues in the US and abroad, including the United Nations, Toronto International Dance Festival, the Downtown Dance Festival in NYC, the DanceNow Festival in NYC, the Asian American Dance Festival in San Francisco, CA and the Chennai Music and Dance Festival and Natyanjali Festivals in India.
Sonali is the Artistic Director of Jiva Performing Arts, based in NYC, where she teaches and creates engaging music and dance productions to increase the accessibility of the classical arts to all audiences. She is also the Director of Sonali Skandan & Jiva Dance, a professional dance company presenting exciting and compelling works based on the Bharatanatyam idiom. The company has presented concerts in prestigious venues to great critical and audience acclaim. She has also been the recipient of two Lower Manhattan Cultural Council awards.
Sonali has been the artistic director for several productions including 'Urban Kutcheri', which premiered at Joyce/SoHo in June 2006 and CMAC (2007) and 'Bharatanatyam Margam' which was held at the Lighthouse Theatre in June 2004 and most recently, 'Swarupa:Infinite Form' which premiered at the 2011 NYC International Fringe Festival to much critical acclaim. She was commissioned by Sruti in Pennsylvania to choreograph 'Trimurti-Bharatanatyam Odissi and Kathak' for their 25th year anniversary celebrations in 2011.
As an educator, she has given lecture demonstrations and workshops in museums and schools throughout the NYC area and is a Teaching Artist for Young Audiences New York. Sonali is also on the dance faculty at Sarah Lawrence College and holds a Masters degree in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She uses her experience in teaching to develop engaging and enriching lecture demonstrations and workshops for professional dancers, students and teachers.
Sonali's passion for Bharatanatyam stems from its spirituality, its intricate beauty and grace. Sonali's work reflects a high-level quality and dedication to the pure art form. By combining her devotion to the dance with her western upbringing, Sonali hopes to bridge the cultural boundaries and present Bharatanatyam in a clear and enlightening manner.