2015 - American Natya LifeTime Awardree  : Guru Viji Prakash  




Guru Viji Prakash has been a pioneer in popularizing the performance and presentation of Bharata Natyam in the USA since 1976. A virtuoso herself in this ancient classical dance form, Viji Prakash is an internationally acclaimed dancer, choreographer, and teacher of Bharata Natyam. When Viji moved to Los Angeles in 1976, she brought with her the intense, disciplined, meticulous training that was imparted to her from age 4, by the grand masters of the Tanjavur tradition of Bharata Natyam, her gurus Guru Kalyanasundaram and late Guru Mahalingam Pillai, of the Sri Raja Rajeshwari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir, Bombay.

Today in 2013, Viji Prakash the dancer/visionary of the 1970's, is the successful founder & director of the Shakti School of Bharata Natyam. Over the past 32 years she has nurtured, trained and developed hundreds of young children into elegant dancers and provided them with opportunities to perform at various venues both at national and international stage. Being a consummate artist, Viji's disciples were inspired to continue the tradition of this art form by being both professional dancers and teachers in United States after performing their Arangetrams (solo dance debut).

Through her world acclaimed SHAKTI DANCE COMPANY that Viji established in 1985 as the performing platform of the School, Viji has presented innumerable solo and group choreographic works including the Los Angeles Festival's Sons of Kunti at the Wadsworth Theater 1990, the musical Purandharadasa and Meera at the Terrace Theater, Long Beach Convention Center, 1990Manifestations of Shakti at the Japan American Theater, 1986, Dance of the Immortals at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion1985 and the National and International tours 1997 to 2007 of the epic productions Shyama, Bhagavad Gita, Prince to Buddha - a journey to enlightenment, Shiva-Shakti, Sant Meera and Tulsi Ramayan. Viji received the "Best Guru" award from the Madras Music Academy, Chennai, India in 2001. A two time recipient of the Brody Choreographic fellowship, the California Arts council award and the Excellence in Arts Award of the Torrance Cultural Arts Commission, Viji has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Bharata Natyam at World Arts & Culture, UCLA , since 1999.