Alarmel Valli holds the distinction of being the leading proponent of the Pandanallur tradition in Bharatanatyam. People have applauded her for bringing depth, passion and spontaneity into her work. One of the most creative artists of today, Alarmel Valli became the youngest dancer to be conferred with Padma Shri award. She has performed in almost all the major festivals in India and has also displayed her talent in most of the cultural capitals of the world. What has been her forte is her ability of converting a traditional grammar into subtle and fluid dance poetry. She is also the founder of ‘Dipashikha’, a centre for fine arts in Chennai, established in 1984, where she also teaches Bharatnatyam. Read on further to explore the complete biography cum life history of Alarmel Valli.
Early Life : Alarmel Valli was born on September 14, in the year 1957. She completed her formal education from The Sacred Heart Matriculation School, at Church Park, Chennai and later studied at the Stella Maris College, Chennai. Right from her childhood, Alarmel Velli had developed an interest in dancing. She received formal training in dance by the renowned guru Shri Chokkalingam Pillai and his son Shri Subbaraya Pillai. Thereafter, Alarmel came under the tutelage of Smt. T. Mukha and studied Padams and Javalis for many years. Additionally, she learnt Odissi from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and his disciple, Guru Ramani Ranjan Jena.
Career : At the young age of 16 years, Alarmel Valli was invited to perform at the International Dance Festival of the Sarah Bernardt Theatre De La Ville, in Paris. This was just beginning of the many more that were waiting to come, as from thence, started Valli’s journey as one of the internationally recognized dancers of India. She has been touring since then, on a regular basis, and has received acclamation for her dance performances in leading theatres throughout the world. Alarmel Valli is also involved in lecture demonstrations, classes, workshops and seminars. She is responsible for creating an international awareness about Bharatanatyam. Alarmel Valli founded ‘Dipashikha’, a Center for Performing Arts, in the year 1984. The center was set up with the aim of imparting training to promising new artists. Alarmel Valli’s biggest achievement over the years has been the evolvement of her own unique style of dancing. She has specialized Pandanallur style Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam. Through her choreography, Valli discerns the inner layers of meaning in poetry and lyrics, giving them a visual and melodic meter. It is due to this that she has been successfully garnering positive comments from her critics, who mostly have this to say about her dance “uncompromisingly classical, but, at the same time, an undeniable language of self-expression”.
Contributions : Alarmel Valli has involved herself in research work, for around 12 years, on classical Tamil anthologies of Sangam poetry. She has tried to use dance performances for bringing the beauty of the poem in front of the people. Her own distinct style, which emerged as a result of her practice as well as research, has enriched the domain of Bharatanatyam. Valli has brought a contemporary interpretation to the traditional framework of classical Indian dance, thus popularizing the dance form all over the world as a dynamic, constantly evolving, classical art. Apart from founding ‘Dipashikha’, a Centre for Fine Arts, Valli has worked in several other forums as well, which include, Spic Macay in India, the Societe Italiana del Flauto Dolce, The Philharmonic society in Rome, the International Sommertanzwochen in Vienna and Universities across the US.
Personal Life : Presently, Alarmel Valli is staying abroad, with her husband Bhaskar Ghosh, former I & B secretary and former director general of Doordarshan.