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Minneapolis, MN

Photo by Ed Bock

Aparna’s creative vision merges the rich traditions and deep philosophical roots of her Indian heritage with her hybridic perspective as a first generation South Indian American. Through her work, Aparna engages the dynamic tension at the intersection of tradition and innovation, ancestral wisdom and creative freedom, approaching her artistic lineage as a dynamic, living language and a potent tool through which to speak to the contemporary human experience. Her decades of immersive training under legendary Bharatanatyam dancer/choreographer Padma Bhushan Smt. Alarmél Valli, known as one of India’s greatest living masters, is the bedrock of her creative aesthetic.

Aparna’s choreographic work ranges from intimate solo presentations with live musical accompaniment to large-scale, multidisciplinary theatrical works that have toured widely throughout the U.S., India, and abroad. Her work has been commissioned and presented by the Kennedy Center, American Dance Festival, Lincoln Center, Joyce Theater in New York, Harris Theater in Chicago, The Soraya in Los Angeles, Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College, The Northrop and Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi, the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, the Music Academy in Chennai, and the Soorya Festival in Kerala, India, among others, and supported by such institutions as the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, the Japan Foundation New York, and USArtists International.

Among Aparna’s awards and honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Research Fellowship (Italy), Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship (Italy), Joyce Award, Bush Fellowship for Choreography, and four McKnight Artist Fellowships, among others. She is an empaneled artist with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

Aparna is committed to inspiring a new generation to think and act innovatively, sparking conversations about cultural hybridity in the 21st century. She has served as a guest lecturer and featured speaker at Carleton College, Wesleyan University, Dartmouth College, Bucknell University, Pace University, Lawrence University, the University of Iowa, the Dance/USA National Conference, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, and the “Body Voices: Reimagining Culture, Community, and Politics” conference hosted by NYU Abu Dhabi, among others. As a teacher, she has educated numerous students in her unique Bharatanatyam lineage and aesthetic. She is an alumna of Carleton College with a degree in Political Science and International Relations.

Dancing Lab: What Constitutes American Dance? (2023)

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