Ramya Ramnarayan – Choreographer, Performer, Teacher-Educator

Counted among the leading exponents of Bharatanatyam today, Ramya Ramnarayan combines legacy, expertise and experience. A protégé of two exponents of the dance form, Kalaimamani, SK Rajarathnam Pillai and Padma Bhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan, Ramya is recognized as a capable performer, choreographer, educator and a torch bearer of this art, who blends tradition with innovation.

Ramya is a recipient of number of awards from India and USA.
  • She is an 'A' grade artist Doordarshan, India
  • ICCR empaneled artist, India
  • Tamil Nadu State awardee (Kalaimamani) and a roaster artist at YA and Pentacle

She has received the Artist Fellowship Award for Choreography from NJSCA and Mid Atlantic Foundation of Arts 2008 and is recognized as a master teaching artist by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, besides receiving the coveted Kalaimamani, Nadanamamani, & Nrithya Seva Mani. Moreover, the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey have passed a joint resolution recognizing Ramya for her commitment, dedication, and achievement in the art.

Ramya is one among 9 artists in the state of NJ to have been selected to participate in Dodge Dance Lab part of Dance residency 2022, a teaching laboratory to recommend, design, revise, structure, and implement culturally responsive strategies for better student learning at the NJ public schools to impact elementary dance education. Moreover, Ramya is also one among 20 professionals selected to attend, Arts Professional Learning Institute in 2022. 

Ramya has performed in prestigious venues world over such as the Madras Music Academy, Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Narada Gana Sabha, Kartik Fine Arts, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, International Fringe Festival, Asia Society, Lincoln Center, Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana, Zollener Arts Center, Mission City Performing Arts Center, San Francisco, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University New Brunswick, Newark and Camden NJ, Stockton College of NJ, Montclair University, Kean University, Drew University, Wesleyan College, Lehigh University, Muhlenberg College,  Newark Museum, Allentown Museum, Philadelphia Arts Museum, Please touch Museum, Morris Museum and at various festivals throughout the world including Brighton, London UK. Ramya is featured yearly in prestigious Sabhas (arts venue) during the Music and Dance season at Chennai such as the Mylapore Fine arts, Kartik Fine Arts and many other Sabhas around the city. She has also performed at various Indian cites at reputed arts organizations at Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Vijayawada and Pune. She has conducted lecture demonstrations at numerous schools, colleges, libraries reaching out to over 10,000 audience members per year. She was a visiting faculty appointment in the Dance Department at Mason Gross School of Arts, affiliated to Rutgers University and at Sarah Lawrence College, NY.  

Ramya released a dance DVD at the Cleveland festival, a tribute to her Guru S K Rajarathnam Pillai in connection she also presented a full-length concert at the Cleveland Aradhana. In 2022 She will be releasing part 2 of the DVD offering her homage to her Guru S K Rajarathnam Pillai for his 90th birth year celebrations.  Ramya maintained her energy and focus throughout the pandemic, delivering several critically acclaimed virtual performances. She was curated by Aalap Foundation, India to present a special series on “what home means to artists”, which saw appreciation from press and audiences alike. She performed at prestigious festivals like Drive East in New York City and IDIA in San Francisco. She recorded an entire margam for Kalakendra Chennai with live musicians 2021 and organized a virtual “Stuck at Home” series which featured young emerging dancers across the United States. Ramya was curated by Anita Ratnam to present a unique virtual margazhi series presenting Thiruppavai and Naachiyar Thirumozhi and in addition presented several programs locally, across the Tri-state area, USA with senior students and guest artists. She also presented a five-part virtual program, "Musical Temples and Dancing Sculptures", which showcased world-renowned artists and the temple architecture, sculptures, and legends which are integral to the Indian heritage, a series which gained international recognition. The artists featured are Smt Priyadarsini Govind, Ms Chithra Madavan, Sri V Sriram, Sri Ramakrishna Murthy and Sri Kunnakudi Balamurali Krishna. 

As the artistic director of Nrithyanjali, Ramya has taken leadership roles to help the community during times of need. Over the years she have raised over $200,000 for various charities such as The American Red Cross, Wellness Community Center, Easton Hospital, Kids Peace America, Free the Children, Sankara Eye Foundation, Guruvayoor Appan Sannidhi, and Ranganatha-Seva Samithi. Ms Ramya also took part in covid relief efforts, raising funds for Unite India and joining the Government of India’s Hum Saath Hai initiative. Recently, Ramya along with her students raised funds to help artists affected by the pandemic. Funds were donated to Abhai India, Sruti Foundation India, Narada Gana Sabha Trust, India and several individual artists who were in dire need.

Ramya recently received a covid relief Individual Dance Artists grant from Dance NJ and the New Jersey Arts and Culture. She feels grateful to be chosen form a highly competent pool of artists who were part of the review process across the state to springboard new production and teaching ventures in NJ.

Press Comments 

Her firm footwork and abhinaya were noteworthy.  She effectively conveyed the emotions of the heroine suffering pangs of separation in the Kshetrayya padam ‘Payyada’ (Nadanamakriya. She then depicted Krishna and his antics in the Devarnama ‘Chikavane’ (Ragamalika). Her best came in the final ‘Trimurthi Vandanam,’ a Gowlamalika by Chitravina Ravikiran. – The Hindu

Ms. Ramnarayan delivered a far wider selection of the physical, rhythmic and communicative range of her idiom. The soles of Ms. Ramnarayan’s smaller feet often slapped the floor with greater impact and her rhythm had terrific authority. – Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times 

Ramya Ramnarayan’s deft exposition of a spectrum of sentiments reflected the considerable homework put into internalizing the finer aspects of Bharatanatyam. A student of Swamimalai S.K. Rajaratnam Pillai and Kalanidhi Narayanan, this U.S. based artist is an experienced Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer and teacher whose performance reflected the sophisticated air of her style. Her nritta is graceful and does not compromise on energy and is well supported by neat postures and clear sounding footwork. Ramya excels in abhinaya with her innate expertise…. - Vidya Saranyan, The Hindu 

Ramnarayan avoids histrionics, and while her performance depends upon alternating impressions of Mandodari’s admiration for her late husband and disbelief at his defeat, one of the most effective moments is the lingering pause she takes, recoiling from her discovery and allowing the dreadful truth to sink in. - Robert Johnson, NJ ARTS  

Ramya Ramnarayan is a wonderful exponent of Bharatanatyam. Beautiful in form and face, gifted with a natural grace and clean body lines, she brings elegance and emotional depth to her dance narratives. Ramya delights with her perfect tala parmana and her expressive abhinaya. The detailed exploration of stories done to gripping mime makes her a pleasure to watch. - Maya Kulkarni,