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Preethi Athreya


A Chennai-based contemporary dancer, Preethi Athreya (1976) trained in Bharatanatyam and later went on to do a postgraduate degree in Dance Studies (Laban Centre, London, 2001). Keenly conscious of her need to be defined not as the exotic other, she chose to continue her journey in her native Chennai. Between 1999 and 2011, she worked with Padmini Chettur from where she inherited the evolving legacy of Chandralekha and a strong commitment to constantly redefine the Indian body.

Working within the Indian contemporary dance scene as a performer, choreographer and facilitator, Preethi belongs to a league of dance-makers in India today who use dance as an agent of change. Her initial training in Bharatanatyam and her subsequent training to unlearn the strictures that this classical form placed on the body can be traced across many of her works. Her art is process-driven in a manner that makes it evident within the structure of the works she creates. This also leads to a demystification of the choreographic work – something that Preethi consciously aims for. Her recent ensemble work, The Jumping Project (2015) reflects an endeavour to find an honest body, possibly unbeautiful, but free of artifice. The artist has been engaged in creating a personal movement language that reflects her relationship with her context. She regards her own oeuvre as ‘an attempt to reclaim the body from numerous kinds of anaesthetization that it is constantly subjected to.’


Her creations are Kamakshi (2003) Inhabit (2006), Porcelain (2007) Pillar to Post (2007), Sweet Sorrow (2010), Light Doesn’t Have Arms To Carry Us (2013), Anki Bunki Kata (2013), Across, Not Over (2014), Conditions of Carriage: The Jumping Project (2015), and The Lost Wax Project (2018). Preethi is one of the co-founders of Basement 21, a practice-based performance collective in Chennai.