Roja Kannan Biography

Roja Kannan Biography:

Roja Kannan is one of the most outstanding Bharatanatyam Exponents from Chennai, India having trained under illustrious Gurus Padmashri Awardee Sri. Adyar K.Lakshman and Padma Bhushan Awardee Smt. Kalanidhi Narayanan. Roja has been nurtured in rich Carnatic musical tradition hailing from the family of veteran renowned musician Palghat Rama Bhagavathar. She grew up in an atmosphere of music and dance, starting her formal training at a very early age under the illustrious exponent Padma Bhushan Awardee Dr. Vyjayanthimala Bali at her institution “NATYALAYA” in Chennai.   Here Roja and her sister Meena learnt under renowned Gurus like Kavi Aravindakshan, and Adyar K. Lakshman for Bharatanatyam and Trichur P. Ramanathan for Mohiniattam.   Roja is one of the few Bharatanatyam dancers who is well versed in Carnatic Vocal music performing tradition having trained with renowned Gurus Vidwan V.R. Krishnan & Vidushi Shyamala Venkateswaran. 

Roja and her sister Meena had their Arangetram in the year 1972 and has reached a glorious stature as a fine performer.  In the last five decades Roja Kannan has been hailed as a pristine performer of Bharatanatyam with a rich experience and expertise. She has hundreds of performances and lecture demonstrations to her credit both in India and Abroad.  As child artistes both Roja and her sister Meena were featured in many Tamil movies of the 60’s and 70’s.  Roja has participated in one of the very well known International Dance Festival called the “Jacob’s Pillow International Festival of Dance” at Lee, Massachusetts in July 2004. Apart from several others like the “Global Rhythms” Festival of Music & Dance at Oxford, Ohio in November 2006, and “World Harmony Day “Celebrations in April 2013 at Orange & Dubbo near Sydney, Australia. The Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival has also featured Roja in the years 2007 &2015.  Roja has also travelled to Paris, France in the year 2012 and Copenhagen, Denmark in the year 2017 on ICCR sponsored tours of the Ministry of Culture Government of India.  

Roja Kannan founded BHARATHA NATYALAYA Academy of Music & Dance in the year 1987 with the sole aim to train students in the nuances of the technique of her chosen tradition and thereby assure the propagation and continuity of the Art form in it’s good standards. The Centre strives to uphold the genuine values of the unique South Indian Dance Form.  Roja has trained and nurtured over 60 brilliant students who have all graduated from this Institution and are all gaining name and fame in the renewed performing spheres.  Roja’s artistic works have expanded over the years by conceiving and composing noteworthy dance ballets.  For her sustained brilliant work and versatility Roja has been bestowed with several well known Awards and Recognitions from various Cultural Organizations and the Government of Tamil Nadu which include: 

  • Kalaimamani from the Government of Tamil Nadu, 
  • Nrithya Kala Shikhamani from The Chennai Cultural Academy Trust, 
  • Lifetime Achievement Awards from The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai Kendra & Kartik Fine Arts, Chennai, 
  • Best Guru Award from Brahma Gana Sabha, Chennai, 
  • Acharya Choodamani from Krishna Gana Sabha , Chennai, 
  • Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Endownment Award from Binfield Trust , Chennai, 
  • Kalacharya Sironmani from VDS Arts Academy, Chennai, 
  • Woman of Excellence Award from the Probus Club, Chennai, 
  • Kala Seva Bharathi from Bharat Kalachar, Chennai, 
  • Natya Ilavarasi from the Sree Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha, New Delhi, 
  • Sathya Nrithya Sundaram from the Bharathanjali Trust , Chennai, 
  • Nadana Kalaimani from the Ramalingar Pani Mandram, Chennai, 
  • P.Obul Reddy Endowment Award for a Senior Dancer from the Natyarangam, Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai, 
  • Best Senior Dancer Award from The Music Academy Chennai in 2012 during their Platinum Jubilee Celebrations. 

Roja Kannan has expressed her innate urge to serve the community of artists in her capacity as the General Secretary of ABHAI ( Association of Bharatanatyam Artists of India) which she held for eight years, receiving wide acclaim for her committed work for the field and for the artists. Again as a member of the Executive Committee and then as the Vice President she continued her service. Roja Kannan is currently the President of ABHAI and continues her selfless work to the betterment of the Artistic Fraternity.  Roja continues her service to the artistic community by being an active member of the “Jana Bharatham” project of Natyarangam, Narada Gana Sabha through which she spreads awareness to the community at the grassroots level about the Arts and the Art form. Her focus in this project involves elevating the laymen and the learned through Art Forms. Roja has taken upon herself additional responsibilities as the Academic Incharge of the Kalpakkam Dance School, Tamil Nadu apart from involving in the “Akhil Diksha Foundation “ Dance Academy at Ranipet Tamil Nadu. 


ROJA KANNAN- A respected Bharatanatyam Exponent, Teacher, Musician, Choreographer, Producer and expert in Theory of Dance wishes to state that: 

Bharatanatyam which is glorified and recognized as a renowned art form of the Globe is splendorous- it is her ambition to foster, continue and document excellence of Bharatanatyam as a grand Art Tradition for posterity. She respects the Art as one of the greatest gifts of God to Humanity through which Universal Peace and Harmony could be achieved. 

Her motto is “ Service to Humanity through Fine Arts”.