Pranita Jain is an Indian classical dancer, choreographer, company director, curator and producer. Trained in New Delhi, India, Jain relocated to the United States in 1985 to study dance ethnography. She is currently Executive Artistic Director of Mandala South Asian Performing Arts. She also founded and directed Kalapriya Center for Indian Performing Arts. She has performed, choreographed and produced widely in the U.S. and India. In addition, Jain is a dedicated and highly sought-after educator. She returns to India annually to connect with other artists in order to stay current and enrich her knowledge of evolving Indian performance and culture.

It as at the intersection where community meets artistry that I create works that are not only a personal, physical and cultural deconstruction, but function to reshuffle the way various communities view and experience Indian art. I am working toward a contemporized rearticulation of Bharat Natyam that demonstrates both the unique and the universal. Through my work as a CDF Lab Artist, I participate in and import the reconsideration happening globally within my tradition. I connect with international practitioners, contemporary peers, and local audiences to extend a growing collective impulse within South Asian dance to Chicago.

—Pranita Jain, Artist Statement


Unwinding is the process I pursue to contemporize the ancient classical dance form Bharat Natyam. I take the “original” movements that I have practiced for decades called adavu, and I make them new. Creating new adavu means incorporating new positions, new body levels, new sounds. It also includes a change to corresponding rhythmic syllables used in the Carnatic accompaniment. Choreographically, the act of unwinding involves freeing up the restrictions within a given adavu to understand how it limits or liberates my expression. Unwinding, the performance, describes and reveals the creative tension between the diasporic experience and upholding tradition.