My Artistic Journey

When I look back on my years of dancing, the vivid memories of learning merge with those of a childhood filled with fun and carefree abundance. There are a few memories that never fail to light me up. These are of climbing the jamun and tamarind trees at school to savor the fruit, competing with boys in our school in throw ball, baseball, cooking competitions and, my favorite—running off to nearby Kalakshetra to learn and practice folk dance for the school Annual day celebrations. For these and many more, I remain indebted to my Gurus, The Dhananjayans and the school where my love for dance was nourished— the Montessori environment of Besant Arundale Senior Secondary School founded by Rukmini Devi Arundale.

Needless to say, my learning at a school associated with Kalakshetra, with its emphasis on artistic education during the day combined with the loving and strict guidance of the Dhananjayans at Bharata Kalanjali in the evenings, gave me holistic training in Bharata Nātyam dance, music, philosophy, Sanskrit, and moral education with strong emphasis on kindness and respect for diversity.

The spirit of enquiry nurtured within these world renowned institutions culminated in my decision to become a dancer by profession in 1986 and in 2002, I completed my doctorate in Semiosis of classical dance (Bharatanatyam) in Tamil culture from 1930 at the University of Madras. The interim years were spent traveling with my Gurus, performing in group productions and creating my own productions.

In 1986, I conducted a week-long cultural camp, Nātya Shibiram, at the Model High school in Dimili, a village in Andhra Pradesh, South India. Here, we invited folk artists who had, for economic reasons taken to agriculture, to revive and teach their art to our young students. Following the camp, the program became a part of the school curriculum. In what can only be described as the power of community arts in bringing about social change, we learnt that because the folks artists were involved in teaching their art in the evening, they abstained from drinking liquor. This in turn led to a drop in reports of domestic violence. This significantly shifted how I perceived arts and their impact on communities. I continue to support the school as a Cultural Advisor.

In 2005 at The Village International School, Bangkok, I re-worked my understanding of movement vocabulary for a sustained intervention program for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). While catering to the diverse needs of children with ASD, I developed the program Movements in Space with specific focus on communication to help build social understanding, develop social skills, and enable them to make basic choices based on shared information. The latent power of movement vocabulary in bringing about a slow yet significant change in the children provided the rationale for me as a teacher to eek further and beyond.

In 2008 I furthered my dream of imparting my learning at AEKA ACADEMY, where children and adults of all age groups could embrace the opportunity to learn drawing, painting, classical dance, music, clay modeling and sculpture. It is now being run by my dear friend Aparna Raghavan in Geneva. During this time, I also had the honor of touring South Africa and Lesotho under the Aegis of ICCR, New Delhi.

During my travels and subsequent collaborations, particularly with Hula dancers in Suzani: A Weaving of Traditions, at Shangri-La, Hawaii, and Joyous return from Taxila with Burmese dancers at Myanmar, I felt the need for a comprehensive book on dance vocabulary. This motivated me to write my first book Message in Movements: Abhinaya Darpanam, An Illustrated Translation, which is now in its third edition. With this book and a few articles I experienced the joy and freedom of writing and expanding my artistic canvas. In 2024, after more than five years of research I wrote and published You Are Your Desires: How an ancient Indian wisdom template will help you tap into your desires and shape your highest destiny.

I am now working to integrate my training as a yoga teacher/practitioner and dancer to create Nātya-Yoga-Śikṣā: A methodology of training, embodying principles of yoga in the practice of dance.

In my 38 years of learning, teaching, researching and writing, my greatest joy and challenge continues to be: to creatively inspire and challenge every student's potential for artistry in ways unique to each of them, so we can collectively build a society with awareness that, in the well being of others, lies our own.

In performing, traveling around the world
and exploring the interconnecting fields of
Bharatanatyam, philosophy, and yoga,
I have learnt that:

No art is spiritual. The spirituality we seek
lies in the unfolding grace and beauty, joy
and radiance inherent in the artists as they
journey into subtler realms of the art.

Anita Vallabh



500hr Yoga Teacher Training

Himalayan Insititute, Poconos, Pennsylvania, USA


Bachelor of Education Program

Bhartiya Shiksha Parishad, Uttar Pradesh, India


Doctorate of Philosophy

University of Madras, Chennai, India


Master of Arts in Sociology

Annamalai University, Chidambaram, India


Bachelor of Arts in Sociology

Stella Maris College, Chennai, India

& Accolades


'Natya Purna' Graduation Award from Bharata Kalanjali in 1986.


Anita is the recipient of the National Award for the Best Dancer (1992-1993) from the National Hindi Academy, Calcutta and was conferred the title of "Kala Bharati".


In recognition of her work in propagating the art form in the schools at Yangon, the Tamil Association in Myanmar conferred upon her the title "Bharatanatya Pracharamani" in 2002.


Received 'Certificate of Honor' from Council of City and County of Honolulu in 2011.