Born in Madras, India, brought up in Paris, Shantala is the child of east and west. She grew up in a world filled with dance and music, initiated at a tender age by her mother, dancer Savitry Nair.
Deeply moved and inspired by Master Vempati Chinna Satyam’s pure and graceful style, Shantala dedicated herself to Kuchipudi, and received an intense and rigorous training from her master. Driven by a deep desire to bring Kuchipudi to the western audience, she has performed in important festivals and theatres (such as: Théâtre de la Ville-Paris, Sadler’s Wells–London, Mercat de les Flors-Barcelona, Jacob’s Pillow Festival-USA, New York City Center, Herbst Theatre-San Francisco), earning praise and admiration from all.
Acclaimed as a rare dancer by artists and connoisseurs in India and Europe, Shantala combines a perfect technique with flowing grace and a very fine sensitivity. Since the age of 13, she also had the privilege of working with some of the greatest artists of our times: Maurice Béjart (“1789…et nous”), Peter Brook (for whom she played Miranda in “The Tempest” and Ophelia in “Hamlet”), Bartabas (“Chimère”), Pina Bausch (“O Dido”, “Néfès”, and “Bamboo Blues), Amagatsu (“Ibuki”). Such experiences make her artistic journey a truly unique one.
Today, Shantala shares her time between touring with her solos and expanding her own choreographic work in the Kuchipudi style. Passionate about human encounters and the artistic journey they trigger, she also revels in collaborating with various artists in the exploration of dance, music and theatre.
Some of these collaborations are: «Play» (2010), a duet with dancer-choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, «Nineteen Mantras» (2012), a modern opera inspired by hindu myths, directed by Giorgio Barberi Corsetti and for which Shantala created the choreography; «Peer Gynt» (2012) directed by Irina Brook for the Salzburg Festival, in which Shantala acts, dances, and sings.
In 2014, she performed in «AM I», a piece by Sydney-based «Shaun Parker & Company» at the Sydney Opera House, with a cast of 13 Australian dancers and musicians.
She also created «Blooming» with Charles ‘Lil Buck’ Riley, a wizard in jookin’, an exhilarating street-dance style from Memphis, Tennessee.
In 2014 and 2015 she worked on two projects in Barcelona: first «Impro-Sharana» a ‘danced-concert’ with her long-time friend the Catalan singer Ferran Savall and four musicians, and then «We Women» Sol Pico, Julie Dossavi, and Minako Seki.
2017 sees the birth of two new projects which are currently being developed: «Bach» a collaboration with cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton and stage director Stéphane Ricordel, and on the other hand, a new solo projected directed by Aurélien Bory.