ranyani is a Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer. She began her training in 1990 at the age of five with Padmashri Leela Samson, one of India’s most celebrated exponents of Bharatanatyam. Aranyani became a proficient solo artist by the time she was sixteen, when she had her Arangetram (solo debut) in New Delhi.
Photograph courtesy: Sonali Zohra
Since then, Aranyani has travelled within India and abroad, in group and solo performances in the Bharatanatyam idiom. She travelled with Leela Samson, as part of her troupe ‘Spanda’, to China, Japan and Inner Mongolia on an ICCR tour. As a soloist, Aranyani has performed in several cities in India, and abroad in London, Paris, Berlin, Jerusalem, Honolulu, Istanbul, Washington and New York. Last year, she has been to the Carribean island of Martinique to teach masterclasses in Bharatanatyam and to perform. Most recently, Aranyani performed all over Europe on a tour which took her to Spain, Germany, Brussels, the Netherlands and the UK.
Over time, Aranyani has developed her own distinctive approach to Bharatanatyam, focusing equally on the human and divine; religious and secular; the traditional and modern. This approach inspired her to explore Bharatanatyam in a deeper way, and also to explore other forms of movement such as Kalaripayattu (a south Indian martial art), Ballet, Contemporary dance, Pilates and Yoga at various institutions such as the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) in the United Kingdom, the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts in Bangalore, and the Gati Dance Forum in New Delhi. Aranyani’s approach also led her to engage with dance academically. She has worked with Sadanand Menon, eminent art critic to help document the work of Chandralekha, one of India’s legendary dancers. At the University of Oxford, she wrote her masters thesis on the multiple-modernities within Indian classical dance. She has also been a writer for the newspaper, ‘The Hindu’ where she wrote a dance column called ‘Footloose’.
Aranyani currently practices dance in Bangalore and continues to perform regularly. She also teaches a theoretical course on dance at the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts. Aranyani is empanelled with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and is a member of the International Dance Council CID-UNESCO. Aranyani has also been centrally featured in a PSBT documentary on Bharatanatyam titled ‘From Sadir to Bharatanatyam’ directed by Viveka Chauhan. In 2014, she was awarded the ‘Natya Kala Mani’ award in Chennai for her noteworthy contributions as a Bharatanatyam artist.