2022 Selma Jeanne Cohen Dance Lecture Awardee: Janaki Nair

Dr Janaki Nair is one of the rare female Kathakali artists who is trained to perform male characters. One of the outstanding disciples of Shri Nelliyodu Vasudevan Nampoothiri, Dr Nair has followed a rigid training regime in Kathakali for fifteen years. She was aptly awarded with India government’s talent scholarship for her flair and passion in Kathakali and has performed widely in India and UK. In her research, she continues to explore the concept of embodying and aligning psychophysical practices, concepts and methodologies.

Dr Nair is also a visual anthropologist who, through her research, explored possibilities of making ethnographic films to create cultural and artistic memories. She is a post-graduate (M.A) in Media and her interests lie in the concept of ‘representation’ and ‘documentation’ using media as a main tool. Her second master’s degree (MFA) is in dance, and she intertwined both of these academic qualifications to tread new avenues in her career.

In 2020, she completed her PhD from Northumbria University with specialised supervision from University of Oxford, UK. She is currently a Research Project Leader at the OCHS, University of Oxford and is a distinguished researcher, who presented research papers at many international conferences (University of Oxford, Aarhus University, Cyprus University, University of Paris, Hyderabad University etc.) She was also engaged with University of Lincoln as a Post-doctoral Research Associate, where she researched about sustainable education methodology in post-conflict settings.

She won Kerala State Best Actress Award, 2015 for her acting skills. Dr Nair also has directed documentaries and acted in various films and television soaps. Being a researcher, performer, actress, film maker and Indologist, through her works, she aims to collaborate with international organisations and artists to mobilise and sustain the presence of traditional Indian arts and culture.

She was elected as a Fellow of Royal Society of Arts, London and has also received Charles Wallace India Trust scholarship for making one of her documentary films. She is the founder and artistic director of Natyatmika Institute of Indian Arts and Culture (NIIAC) and has won many accolades for her dedicated works to foster Indian arts and culture. Whilst her expertise is deeply rooted in Indian dance and cultural practices her engagement with the investigatory potential offers a unique perspective on the creative potential of traditional art within contemporary academic contexts. Clearly her interdisciplinary and cross- cultural range of practices opens many possibilities to showcase, preserve and disseminate traditional practices and pedagogy.

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2 Responses

  1. Warmest congratulations to a truly remarkable muti-talented awardee. May it add wind to your sails!
    from a U of MIchigan Dance Fulbrighter to India of 50 years ago (& still based here)

  2. Chamundeeswari Kuppuswamy

    Many congratulations! Great to read of such rare talent.

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