Guru Dr Pali Chandra

Guru Dr Pali Chandra
Guru Dr Pali Chandra

Pali Chandra has played a crucial role in taking Kathak to a global audience unaware of its existence. Her productions represent some of the most extraordinary tales from folklore, seamlessly transitioned into a palatable avatar for a modern audience. Her foray into the digital world revamped the entire classical dance multiverse, revolutionizing the whole concept of a gurukul.

Some flowers are meant to bloom. Similarly, Guru Pali Chandra was simply meant to dance. It is deeply rooted in her essence, she admits. And ardent fans of her art shall be glad to know that she dedicated her entire life to this beautiful art form.

About Gurus

Kathak is centered around the art of storytelling, and Guru Pali Chandra is among its greatest exponents.   Her tryst with Kathak began at the Lucknow Gharana, where she was raised under the watchful eyes of Guru Vikrama Singhe. A native of Sri Lanka, his path in Kathak had many challenges, but he overcame each one heroically. He immediately recognized his student's rare talent, convinced that he was in the presence of a prodigy. She would initially resist formal dance training but eventually succumbed to its charm. He taught Pali the limitless scope of art and how a teacher must deconstruct a topic to make things easier for the student.

To further fine-tune his ward's progress, Guru Vikrama Singhe would pass the baton to Pt. Rammohan Maharaj. He would further develop upon the core foundation of Kathak that was now firmly established. To polish and refine the final product, Guru Dr Pali Chandra would receive further training under the watchful eye of Kapila Raj, a prominent figure in the Lucknow Kathak arena. These gurus together ensured that a young Pali was now ready to burst into the limelight.

Journey in Dance

After years of arduous effort, Pali Chandra was officially ready to debut as a professional Indian classical dancer. She performed at national and global competitions, reaffirming her teacher's faith in her abilities with many awards and victories. Here she learned the art of absorbing the traditions and practices of different places, the nuances of being a professional, and the street smarts of filtering and accepting criticism.

After traveling across the world, she decided to take the next step in her journey in London. Here she grew and evolved based on the feedback of her viewers and performers. The direct interaction with a knowledgeable audience further sharpened her skill, as she honed the mental and physical fortitude that she is renowned for today. The fourteen years she spent with the British community armed her with the expertise to further the cause of Kathak globally. She had gained valuable insights into the workings and functioning of the dance world.

Digital Journey

During her years as a student, the Guru Dr Pali Chandra noted that artists suffered from the lack of resources that aided the entire process of a classical performance. Guru Dr Pali Chandra sought to catalog and preserve all aspects of a Kathak recital from the pre-production phase to the actual demonstration. She finally found willing participants in her dream when she stumbled upon Invis Multimedia in Kerala, and a digital swansong began. The first collaborations were Kathak DVDs that were released in the early 2000s and instructional videos on, a video encyclopedia on India. These were met with widespread acclaim, and it was apparent that there was a desire for such content.

Bolstered by this success when streaming was not a popular buzzword, she launched, a dedicated portal for Kathak education. The response was overwhelmingly positive and led to further demands for a whole new channel dedicated to learners in Hindi. This lead to the birth of 'Kathak in Hindi' (Kathak Shikshan Online), among the foremost storehouses of digital Kathak education. This initiative is making her a household name in the field of kathak with a promise to reach out to millions of enthusiasts all over the world.

Gurukul, the Dance School

Pali Chandra shifted to Dubai from London and immediately noticed that Kathak was thoroughly underrepresented in the area. Instead of lamenting about the situation, she took it upon herself to provide a solution. She established the Gurukul, a school where dance is taught as a skill rather than a mere hobby. She combined the tenets of her teachers with her own vision of using dance as a vocation to aid the modern-day dancer. She began with two students, and today, thousands of young dancers pay homage to her time-trusted methodology. Her center is the biggest of its kind in all of Dubai, and she has established Gurukuls in Switzerland also.

The Gurukuls attract students from all walks of life, and teachers are instructed to create tailor-made plans for each based on their specific needs. The dancer brings a concept they wish to work upon, and the Gurukul offers the guiding hand that helps them reach their goal. Residency programs are also offered here to aid the student further. Guru Pali's dream is to enshrine the code of nritya into the next generation, the way she received them from her Gurus. Her style is her own creation, a blend of the past with shades of what is to come, interspersed with a healthy dose of a lifetime spent in devotion to dance. She is an ambassador of Kathak, a symbol of the unifying power of the artform.

Bonds with NatyaSutraOnline

Her experience with Invis Multimedia, her repertoire in online teaching , and her love for Indian classical dance make her a natural partner for the NatyaSutraOnline project. Her ideas have played a crucial role in facilitating a web portal covering all indigenous classical dances, music, and culture. This platform is the organic evolution of a journey that began with a mutual desire to preserve our country's heritage nearly two decades ago. Guru Pali Chandra is the epitome of India's revered 'guru shishya parampara'.

Guru Pali Chandra is the Chairperson of the Board of Advisors and the Chief Mentor for NatyaSutraOnline. Her input and directives have aided this venture since its inception. Her forays into the digital education sphere helped her introduce traditional nritya to a virtual market. The NatyaSutraOnline team gains inspiration from her unique perspective and enduring zeal. As a global dance visionary, she spearheads our attempt to bring Indian classical to every household worldwide.

Works and Awards

Guru Dr Pali Chandra holds a doctorate in Dance Education from Ecole Supérieure Robert de Sorbon University, Paris in 2021 and is a committee member of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, U.K. She is a graded member of the prestigious Indian Council of Cultural Relations. Be it Oxford University, Birmingham University, London School of Contemporary Dance, Bradford University, University of Zurich or the Berlin Museum, her workshops attract large crowds of Kathak aficionados. Other major works that are fondly remembered include ‘Sufi Noor’, ‘Rhythm Shift’ and ‘Khamoshi ki Awaaz’. These troupes featured dancers from India, Canada, the U.K. and Dubai. She has been recognised as the ‘Kathak Ambassador' at the House of Lords, London Parliament in 2018, for her contribution to the propagation of classical Indian dance forms, beyond Indian borders. She was also awarded the Cultural Ambassador to the Middle East at the Indian Consulate in 2016.

Presently she helms Gurukul Studios in Dubai and Switzerland as their Artistic Director. she received the Women of Excellence Award 2013 in Abu Dhabi. In London, the House of Commons awarded her the title of Best Art Director for her production 'In The Shadow Of The Hills'. She has the rare accomplishment of training the highest number of students in the Kathak syllabus of Imperial Society for Teachers of Dancing, UK.

As a performer and choreographer, her spectacular shows have enthralled audiences globally. Her brilliance in classical and contemporary genres has earned her several laurels, including the Lachhu Maharaj Award for exceptional mastery of abhinaya (the art of expression). A fantastic teacher who pays attention to every detail, Guru Pali Chandra has mentored thousands of young dancers, both physically and digitally. Her unique style of coaching emphasizes tailored modules based on the capacity and skills of students. Over the years, she has crafted this art and helped several students globally to perform on various prestigious platforms.  

She is actively curates in training the trainer programs to help carry the legacy of pure kathak forward. Besides dance training, she is the Artistic Director of 11 Dance Festivals and several more productions across the world.  She has collaborated with diverse art forms such as Flamenco, Tap, Western Contemporary, Ballet, and Bharatanatyam. The collaborations are known to blend the techniques and ideologies of the respective dance forms seamlessly. She has composed and choreographed all the 24 songs in Gita Govinda written by the 12th-century poet, Jayadeva.

Community Cohesion and Environment Focussed Projects

Dr. Pali Chandra is known for her contribution to the society and environment andhas taken several charity initiatives since 1995. From awareness programs onpeople with special needs to the homeless of Harrow in UK. From givingcompany to the lonely in old age homes of Belmont Elderly Centre to dancingwith the physically challenged of Aspire, Stanmore. She has organised fundraisers in Dubai, Bangalore and Chennai to help with cornea transplants for blind girls. Pali Chandra trained even blind students in Sri Rakum School for the Blind in Bangalore which was a great challenge where she succeeded. She has done several projects to help raise awareness towards the environment as well. Eg Ganges To Thames, Continental Shift and Five Elements.

NatyaSutra is an attempt to permanently preserve the rich art and cultural heritage of India. Our dream is to provide 24/7 online access to personalized lectures, tutorials, classes, and performances of all Indian art and culture.