The Kennedy Center

Nilimma Devi Dance Theater



Biography

Nilimma Devi is founder and director of the Nilimma Devi Dance Theater, the Sutradhar Institute of Dance & Related Arts, and the Ramayana program. A student of acclaimed gurus Vedantam Prahlad Sarma, Nataraja Ramakrishna and the late Vedantam Jagannath Sarma, Nilimma has studied rare Andhra Court Dance from the late Sanjeevaratnammam, one of the last surviving court dancers in India. In New Delhi, she was lauded by critics for her ôsculpturesque grace.ö In Washington, NilimmaÆs dance moved Alan Kriegsman: ôNilimma Devi presented a beguiling program of Kuchipudi.ö Nilimma has taught at the Shiraz University in Iran and directed productions for Iranian television. She choreographed a dance-drama in Kenya as part of the International Year of the Child and directed a three-part series for Kenyan television. Nilimma was an artist-in-residence for the state universities of Wisconsin, Maryland, and Minnesota. She also taught at London's Goldsmith College. Nilimma has been a member of the Center for South Asian Studies, International Mimes, and the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD) in New York. The Asia Society and the Japanese Cultural Center sponsored her Asian collaborative performance Fabric of Life. Her video Meri Kalpana, Flight of my Imagination, was shown at the Association for Asian Studies film series. Commissioned by the Smithsonian in 1990, Nilimma explored the link between Hindu myth and the environment. At a CORD conference in 1992, she presented research of dance in the Indian immigrant community. In 1994, Nilimma was the movement and cultural consultant for Paul McNally's play, A Perfect Ganesh. In 1995, Nilimma completed research on the tradition of hand gestures in Indian dance, on a senior grant from the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS). Her teaching, choreography and research reflect her global approach to dance.

Anila Kumari has grown up with dance. She trained under her mother, eminent Kuchipudi dancer Nilimma Devi and under renowned gurus Prahlad Vedantam Sarma and Vempati Chinna Satyam. By the age of thirteen, she had performed on stage and television, both nationally and internationally. In 1989, one of IndiaÆs toughest critics, Subbudu, praised her "techinical virtuousity, keen sense of rhythm and abhinaya." Another prominent critic, V. V. Prasad wrote, ôvery few dancers are gifted with charisma. Anila is one of those few.ö In 1993, Anila won the Performer Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. She performed at Dance Place and received praise from dance critic Alan Kriegsman for her "seductive sparkle and a quicksilver quality." She has gone on to perform at the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, University of Maryland, and George Washington University. As assistant director at the Sutradhar Institute of Dance & Related Arts, Anila has also taught at the Johns HopkinsÆ Peabody Institute and the Davis Center for the Arts, where she worked with inner-city children from 1992-1995.

  Nilimma Devi Dance Theater