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contemporary dance



Hemabharathy Palani's work is deeply personal and evocative. Her movements are richly textured with elements from her further training in ballet, contemporary dance, Kalaripayattu, yoga and capoeira at the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts.

Hema has travelled to some of the biggest contemporary dance venues including  the Barbican Centre (London), Mercat de les Flors (Barcelona) and Critical Path (Sydney). She has also completed residencies under mentors like Jonathan Burrows, during her Sadler's Wells Summer University programme in 2011.

Currently, Hema is the Rehearsal Director at the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bengaluru, where she also works as a choreographer, teacher, and performing artist with the Attakkalari Repertory Company.



An award-winning choreographer and dancer, Hemabharathy Palani is one of the most promising talents in contemporary dance today. 


Known for her fluidity and musicality, Hema is a dynamic choreographer and performer. On stage, her focus is hypnotic, drawing her audience into the story she weaves with her gracefully articulated movements.  

This remarkable grace is derived from her classical training in Kuchipudi under Guru Smt. Sunanda Devi and Guru Smt. Vyjayanthi Kashi, and Bharatanatyam under Guru Smt. Minal Prabhu.

"Through dance, I can reveal my most authentic self."   Hemabharathy Palani


“Trikonanga fluently combines the pointed foot of ballet with the articulated fingers of bharatanatyam and the malleable spine of contemporary dance.” 

- Sanjoy Roy
The Guardian (2015)

“She depicted a sense of restriction as well as liberation in the same breath, enthralling the spectators.”

- Reshma Trilochan
Asian Voice (2015)

“She begins with classical poise, but her smooth circling lines soon falter and she sheds that skin, transforming from benign goddess into an earthly person of frustration, urgency and anxiety. It’s a real fall from grace, but proves Palani a performer of conviction and control.”

- Lyndsey Winship
Evening Standard (2015)

“It is the most emotionally visceral performance of the evening… a powerfully, feminine performance.”

- Rebecca Latham
A Younger Theatre (2015)

“… articulated by the traditional expressive use of head, navel and toe motifs which utilise physical, oral and emotional expression to chart the transformation of a goddess-like woman (Hemabharathy Palani) into a mental and physical wreck.”

- Michal Boncza
The People’s Daily Morning Star (2015)

"An enduring journey through pain and suffering, varied perspectives and unheard voices made it to Hemabharathy’s storyboard."

- Shalini
The Hindu (2010)


Public's First Choice Award, 2013 

First Indian to win; 18th International Solo Tanz-Theatre Festival, Struttgart, Germany, for ‘Trikonanga’

Robert Bosch Young Choreographer's Award, 2009

For ‘Uruvam’

Priyadarshini Award

From the All India Federation

Doordarshan ‘A’ Grade Artist, 1999 

For a group performance with Guru Smt. Vyjayanthi Kashi

International Films

Featured in Swedish Television's SVT documentary 'Kultur i Farozonen'; choreographed a dance film 'Toss' for Music to Move to, produced by Fuel Theatre and co-produced by Dance Umbrella, UK and The Space, UK

Regional Films

Worked as an assistant choreographer in a number of feature films and regional television shows, including the Kamal Hassan starrer 'Uttama Villain'

Awards & Filmography


Significant Performances

International Dance Festival Birmingham: ‘Twine’ (2016)

Arsenic Theatre: Indp- Swiss collaboration with Attakkalari ‘Isshh(क)!’ (Laussanne, Switzerland, 2016) 

Dance Umbrella Out of India: Modern Moves (Barbican, London, 2015)

Seoul International Dance Festival: Indo - Korean collaboration (Attakkalari - Cca-doO; Seoul, 2011)


There's a difference between an artiste and a movement artist. An artiste may dance for an audience. A movement artist dances for the stage. An artiste's performance may bend the idea of body. A movement artist's performance bends the idea of dimensions.


Bridging the three pivotal regions of the body – head, navel and toe – the movement leaves traces of triangles in the body and in space, alluding to the concept of navarasa.


Inside Hema’s world


An attempt to tie different ideas of solitude together. Explore the elasticity with which people become extensions of each other, coming together, drifting apart. 


A haphazard journey of the mind that glides, skims, skates, skips, leaps, gyrates and often lethargically drifts through imagined impressions of cityscapes.

What's in a form? Transgender sexuality is the central theme of this piece. The frail subject is conveyed through a clever play of motifs on the ideas of masculinity and femininity.


A disturbing autobiographical experience of child sexual abuse as conveyed in Pinki Virani's book 'Bitter Chocolate'. Feel the innocence of a child, contorted limbs, and gesture deliberation.


The Indian film industry thrives on music and dance. Hema has worked as an assistant choreographer with Jayachandran Palazhy on 'Uttama Villain’.


Present Projects on Tour


Duration: 21 minutes
Music (Original score): Yannick Rayne

‘Trikonanga’ explores three essential dimensions that signify Hemabharathy’s unique movement language and approach to dance.
The piece combines distinct physical ties of three dance forms – Bharatanatyam, con-temporary and ballet, traversing various emotional states.


Bridging the three pivotal regions of the body – head, navel and toe – the movement leaves traces of triangles in the body and in space.
Alluding to the concept of navarasa (nine emotional states), from classical Indian dance forms, Trikonanga embodies nine passages that employ three major devices of enactment – angika abhinaya (physical expression), vaachika abhinaya (oral expression) and saatvika abhinaya (inner emotional expression).

Mostra Paranaense de Dança
Curitiba, PR, Brazil, May 2015

Viva Dança Festival Internacional
Camacari & Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, April 2015

Solos de Stuttgart, Internationales Solo-Tanz-Theater Festival Stuttgart
Tournée 2015 - Brazil

Prayana Festival
Max Muller Bhavan, Kolkata, India, October 2013
Under Attakkalari’s Young Choreographers’ Platform

Open Studio 2013, Ballet National De Marseille
BNDM Main Studio, Marseille, France, May 2013
Co-produced by Attakkalari

Encontro Internacional de Dança Contem-porânea
Natal, RN, Brazil, May 2015

This show has been performed at

Internationales Solo-Tanz-Theater Festival
TREFFPUNKT Rotebuhlpatz, Stuttgart, Germany, March 2014
Awarded 'Public's First Choice'

Present Projects on Tour


Choreography: Hemabharathy Palani
Duration: 4 minutes
Music (Original score): Michael Asante (a.k.a. Mickey J)

‘Toss’ is somewhat a haphazard journey of the mind that glides, skims, skates, skips, leaps, gyrates and often lethargically drifts through imagined impressions of city-scapes.
Set in the teeming Indian metropolis, Bangalore, where people are conspicuous by their absence, and occasionally appear only as traces of passing images, the movie creates a montage of impulsive movements that propel the body through architectures of decay, landfills of automobile parts and rusty metals, dried out step-wells, narrow bridges, urban malls and even roof tops of buildings overlooking the urban void.
Sometimes riding the rhythms and at other times drawing the melodic impetus from the score, Toss weaves together a montage where the movements of jerking kittens, dispersing coins in a game of caroms, rotating colorful toy-wheels, unstoppable esca-lators and the somatic articulations of the dancer are all part of an unraveling journey of discovery.

This show has been performed at

Music To Move To
October 2014
A commissioned inspirational dance video for the public; produced by Fuel Theatre, UK;        Co-produced by Dance Umbrella, UK and The Space, UK

Fuel Theatre Festival Launch
Conway Hall, UK, October 2014 



21 May, 2016

Performance of the solo 'Trikonanga and Twine' at the International Dance Festival of Birmingham, The Patrick Centre, Birmingham.

22 May, 2016

Workshop in Birmingham.

6-17 June, 2016 

Conducting a residency for new work 'Peace' at Edinburgh Dance Base Na-tional Centre for Dance. Company show-ing on 17 June, at Scotland's Dance Base National Centre for Dance, Edinburgh.

Performance of the solo 'Trikonanga' at the 2nd Viganle Monferrato Festival in Torino.

8 July, 2016

Performance of the solo 'Trikonanga' at The Lowry, Manchester.

28 June, 2016

5 - 7 July, 2016

Workshop in Torino.

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