Arunima Kumar is an award winning Kuchipudi performer, choreographer and teacher. She received the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskaar ( by Sangeet Natak Akademi ) for Kuchipudi in 2009. Arunima is a student of Padmashree Guru JayaRama Rao and Vanashree Rao and Padmabhushan Smt Swapnasundari Arunima is one of the top 20 dancers selected under Dance UK mentoring program and is mentored by famous Choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh.
Arunima has created a significant mark for Kuchipudi dance and Indian classical dance in the UK , making Indian dance accessible and relevant to audiences both western and of Indian origin. Her dance company AKDC (Arunima Kumar Dance Company) with centres in India, UK, Poland and Brazil is one of the largest Kuchipudi institutions in the UK and is recognised as one of the leading dance companies in the world, performing for major events worldwide with over 1000 performances at prestigious cultural festivals and venues in over 39 countries.
Arunima is the face of Kuchipudi in the UK and has taken Kuchipudi to historic venues and events- Olympics torch Parade 2012 UK, Mayor of London Diwali at Trafalgar Square UK, International Yoga day at Tower Bridge 2016 , Honorable PM of India Mr Modi visit performance at Wembley stadium 2015 for over 65,000 people , Honorable CM Andhra Pradesh performance at London , Westminster Houses of Parliament , Royal Festival Hall, Royal Opera House, Sydney Opera House, Rio Festival , Alchemy Festival , Trafalgar Square Mayor of London Diwali, Scotland Yard, Jayate Kuchipudi , Cardiff Festival , Khajuraho Festival India, Commonwealth games 2012 India and many more. Recently she was the only Indian dancer selected by French choreographer Jerome Bel in his path breaking conceptual work GALA which received standing ovations for Dance Umbrella at Tate Gallery, Bernie Grant centre and Sadlers Wells London.
For her outstanding choreographic and technique, she was invited by the UK Ministry of Culture and Sport to create a piece for the First World War Centenary celebrations in 2015 presented at the Imperial War Museum. Arunima has emerged as a strong ARTIVIST ( Artist and Cultural Activist) and has created award winning productions around women’s identity , empowerment and social justice . Her production on SATI , Shadows of Rage with opera singer Linda Shanovitch has received rave reviews internationally.
Eminent dance historian and critic, Padmashree Dr Sunil Kothari, recently wrote …”Arunima Kumar’s Kuchipudi on one of the three women Sati was commendable for contemporary interpretation and empowerment of women. ….. this was the first ever contemporary work I have seen in Kuchipudi.”
Arunima is focused on creating a generation of artists of high standard , who will be the flag bearers of Indian art forms.Her students ( age 3- 50 years ) across India, UK , Poland, Italy , Brazil have performed across the globe and some have also received the prestigious ICCR scholarships for Indian dance. Her students recently performed Kuchipudi at YUVA , at Alchemy festival 2015. Her students won the Best dance group in Alternative Choreography at Dance showdown, UK RBKC’s largest dance competition for children at the prestigious Cadogan Hall.
The key focus areas of the company are artist development and performances through training of aspiring dancers across America, India and Europe through one on one classes, residencies and Skype classes .
Her education workshops on Indian art and culture (Diwali, Holi, Rakhi, Gandi) are sponsored by the most prestigious art gallery in London – The Saatchi Gallery and are sold out events every year . Her institution is recognised by Trinity College of Arts as an Arts award centre.
Arunima is the founder of 2 charities PROJECT KANYA (for development of women through dance therapy ) and ARTH FOUNDATION – supporting arts with a purpose. She is on the board of several organisations including Sir Syed Foundation and Indian Young Professional Network (IYPN). She works with women in prisons , old age homes and Chelsea Westminster hospital and has rehabilitated several inmates and created sensitive thought provoking productions in dance on women issues.
For her significant achievements and in recognition of her cultural leadership in the UK, she was one of the 20 dancers ( 1 of the 3 Indian dancers ) selected for One dance UK mentorship program in 2016 .
Citations / Awards / ALL Rounder
Sangeet Natak Akademi Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskaar for Kuchipudi, awarded by the President of India
FICCI FLO award in April 2015 for her contribution to Kuchipudi and promotion of Indian art and culture abroad.
Sahitya Kala Parishad Scholarship for Dance
Asian Woman of Achievement Award UK in arts category 2013
Nominated for the Mayors award UK, 2013
One of 20 dancers from UK selected for One Dance UK Mentorship Program
’A grade artiste’ of Doordarshan – National television
‘Established artist‘ empaneled by ICCR
EXTEND scholarship sponsored by Arts Council England
UTKARSH Commission for Arts Council England and Akademi
Navadisha – one of the 5 dancers in the UK to perform at the festival in Birmingham
She was commissioned to choreograph and dance in the worlds First Urdu Opera – Sohni Mahival for Alchemy festival
She has acted in a number of radio and television programs , music videos, advertisements and short films including a cameo in a Bollywood feature film directed by Prakash Jha – RAJNEETI
Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from St. Stephen’s College MSc in Finance and Accounting from the London School of Economics.
Her outstanding academic performance led her to teach at the LSE Summer School in 2002.
She worked at leading corporates (Accenture, American Express, Citigroup , ATKearney,) in leadership positions (last position held, Director HR Europe) and is fully now dedicated on promoting South Asian Dance through her dance company – Arunima Kumar Dance company AKDC.
Arunima is a contributor to webduniya, India’s largest web news portal and runs an article series focused on London arts called MIND THE GAP. She has also contributed to ATTENDANCE EDITION 2014 .
She is a keen pistol shooter and has won several medals in State and National Championships and is also the recipient of the Government of India Sports Talent Search Scholarship (1991-1992).
Performances / Productions
Arunima is an innovator and has collaborated with many international artistes to push the boundaries of South Asian dance. She has created thought provoking, socially relevant choreographic works like MO FUNK, I AM ?, Sssh… , The curse, OM SIVA, O WOMAN, MAFIA, ASATOMA SATHGAMAYA, STREE which have received exceptional audience feedback in national and international press. She was the first to explore Sufi in Kuchipudi and her works QALANDAR , FANAA received recognition in India and London. Her recent work I AM ?, a sensitive and provoking piece , set to poems written by women inmates in Tihar, Asia’s largest prison, has won her international acclaim. She is currently doing a research project on crime by women which will derive interpretations through dance. Another new production, Ssshh…. , reflecting issues on domestic violence premiered in Delhi in October 2014. Her latest commissioned work “Sthree” premiered at SouthBank focusses on identity of women looking through the lens of Indian Goddesses Sati, Sita and Rati.
She has been given outstanding reviews by eminent dance critics and her dynamic profile has featured in all leading international newspapers, television and radio channels.
In order to make dance relevant and socially impactful , Arunima is currently focusing on site specific productions and immersive experiences – her role as Umrao Jaan, in Akademi’s latest production on the courtesan has received outstanding feedback. She is also working with International theatre directors on site specific and immersive dance theatre work.
Arunima is today recognised as an inspirational international figure and invited to several conferences and corporates as guest speaker to motivate others through her success story. She is known as a woman of the future, thought leader of her generation and is known for her innovative, cutting edge and engaging performance style.
Dance Therapy, Community Work and Work in Women prisons
An integral focus of her company is to work with women, women related issues and women inmates in prisons to provide dance therapy, dance vocation training and workshops. This has tremendous positive effects on women and their families, especially high risk cases. Arunima has worked with women in Tihar jail. Asia’s largest prison and done path breaking work in bringing selected inmates whom she trained to perform at mainstream art platforms like Habitat Center, Delhi in December 2012.
Arunima is the founder of 2 charities PROJECT KANYA (for development of women) and ARTH FOUNDATION – supporting arts with a purpose. She works with women in prison and old age homes and has rehabilitated several inmates and created sensitive thought provoking productions in dance on women issues.
Arunima provides free dance training and dance therapy sessions to underprivileged children through its programs – Jingle, Jhankaar run by its foundation arm ARTH .
ARTH has also created dance therapy programs for hospitals in London (eg Chelsea and Westminster) , drug rehabilitation centres in London (Orpington) and India and old age homes in London (Hounslow and Camden) . A special program was also conducted for 20 orphaned children affected by Tsunami in India.
She works closely worth EPIC CIC to deliver workshops for the community and youth groups in Kensington and Chelsea, London.
Teaching (Education) and Workshops
Arunima is the founder and artistic director of UKs largest KUCHIPUDI dance company – Arunima Kumar Dance company (AKDC) in London and in Delhi and several students worldwide who perform widely with the company. AKDC aims to create exemplary performances in the field of Indian arts and culture. All of her students are trained in the traditional integrative approach and also scientific training and encouraged to perform to develop confidence, good technique and better health.
As part of this, AKDC institutions are a part of Ministry of External Affairs India International scholarship program. The company also works towards creating knowledge based collaterals – including literary works through a strong and innovative curriculum to be used in schools and dance institutions.
AKDC also does solo and group workshops across dance genres – Classical, Bollywood, Zumba in schools, colleges, hospitals, old age homes. Arunima has created unique Health specific work out programs leveraging dance like TAKITA , high intensity dance workout and SAMuM, a dance session for pregnant women with several health benefits..
Cultural awareness through workshops such as Diwali, Holi , Rakhee are also extremely popular among children and families. her recent Diwali workshop received appreciation from RBKC, London Mayor and Lord Bilimoria and Lady Kishwar Desai.
AKDC students convey that they learn more than what they come looking for – art, expression , music, stage, lighting and costume… they learn life skills.
Arunima aims at building a strong base for South Asian Dance, especially Kuchipudi, in the global arena showcasing the beauty at landmark events across the globe , including schools, colleges , hospitals, prisons and corporates. She has emerged as an outstanding ambassador of Indian culture across the globe with her innovative blend of tradition and impactful contemporary productions evoking social responsibility.
She is keen to develop a generation of artists who will be the flag bearers of Kuchipudi.
She is keen to work with underprivileged children to hone their dance skills and provide exposure to their talent through her ARTH foundation .
She is keen to continue her work with empowerment of women and women issues. She has done path breaking work with Stree Shakti Awardee and journalist Vartika Nanda, regarding women issues on domestic violence and crime. She has worked with women inmates across prisons, including Tihar jail, to provide positive transformational rehabilitation to them. Her sensitive and thought provoking productions on their poems – BANDINI, Sssh…, IAM , have been acknowledged widely .
Arunima is today widely acknowledged as a woman of the future.With a will to win and excel, Arunima is keen to build a strong foundation for her form Kuchipudi, and also for South Asian dance.
Notable International Performances
Arunima has displayed her art in prestigious, international dance festivals abroad including
- PM Modi perfroamnce at Wembley stadium , 2015 for over 70,000 people and world media Nov 2015
- Honorable CM of Andhra Pradesh performance 2016
- Jerome bel Gala – Sadlers wells, Tate Modern, Bernie Grant Centre October 2016
- World tourism Festival inauguration November 2016
- Andhra Tourism meet November 2016
- Visceral Arts festival Rich Mix December 2016
- Brent Cross Mela 2016
- Madrid Festval SONIKA October 2016
- Diwali on Trafalgar October 2016
- Royal Armed forces November 2015
- International Yoga Day , Southbank centre London , June 2015, 2016
- Navadisha, Birmingham April 2016
- SAMA Arts festival June 2016
- Yuva Mahotsav, Milapfest July 2016
- Women Go live Oxford Arts at Old fire Station curated by Donald Hutera
- Sai performance , June 2016
image from Apple iTunes
- Scotland Yard, 2014, 2015, 2016
- Sir Syed Foundation – choreography of Poems in Urdu on Indian festivals with Dr Hilal Fareed
- Sufi festival 2015
- Umrao Jaan , Akademi, London June 2015
- Dramatised readings , Vikraal, SOAS, London 2015
- The Curse, Rich Mix , commissioned by Pulse and Tagore Center UK, June 2015
- CORPORATE – Bank of Baroda performance November 2015 , 2016
- Tata Consultancy performance November 2015
- Alchemy Festival – Sohini Mahival , ‘Worlds first Urdu Oratorio’ , choreographed and performed 2015
-World War 1 centenary celebrations Ministry of Culture UK , Imperial War Museum Manchester 10 March 2015
- Indo Islamic Peace festival, Sir Syed Foundation UK, March 2015
- Shiva Namaha , Luton February 2015
- Rich Mix, London, February 2015
- Manchester Festival , January 2015
- Kensington Olympiad, Festival, India Tourism , January 2015
- Media and Tourism Conference , November 2014
- Chennai, Karthik Fine Arts , December and January 2015
– World Tourism Festival , WTM London November 2014
- KIRAN – a production in classical dance by Arunima Kumar Dance company , Nehru Center London 2014
- Kent Khushi Feet , November 2014
- World Tourism Festival , WTM London November 2014
- KIRAN – a production in classical dance by Arunima Kumar Dance company , Nehru Center London 2014
- The Curse, Tagore Commission Rich Mix, London November 2014
- Trafalgar Square , Mayor of London , October 2014
- New Scotland Yard, October 2014
- Daredevas, Rich Mix July 2014
- Kanupriya, a love story, Keats House London
- Ramadass Festival London May 2014
- Co choreographer Little Witch – Big Dance july 2014
- Co -choreographer Intransit July 2014
- Hampshire Festival July 2014
- AID UK July 2014
- Camden Locks Festival July 2014
- Shaam E SUFI May 2014
- Balaji festival Birmingham 2014
- Blue Beard June 2014
- Guinness record attempt , Faversham, Kent, 2013
- Olympic Torch Parade, London 2012
- Arts in Parliament, Westminster, London July 2012
- National Portrait Gallery , 2012
- CHARITY SHOW – PRALAYA September 2012
- Dublin Film Festival, Ireland, June 2012
- Rich Mix, London, April 2012
- Celebrating Jamini Roy – an interpretation of her works through dance, London, March 2012
- CRY Charity event, Jumeira Carlton, London July 2011
- Dance Theatre production – ITALIAN MAFIA – in association with st Marys University, London 2011
- Ireland Film Festival, April 2011
- Mentoring Daredevas, Watermans, London 2011
- Glasgow Festival , 2011
- Reading Arts festival, UK, October 2010
- Milapfest- Dance India, August, 2010 Manchester
- Film Festival of India, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Cineworld, July, 2010
- London Performance for British Army, July, 2010 London
- Waterman’s Theatre, July, 2010 London
- Performance for Pandit Ravi Shankar, July 2010, London
- Dance Festival, University of Liverpool, 2010
- Nehru Centre , London, July 2009
- Dance India, Lowry, Manchester 2009, 2010, 2011
- Daredevas, Southbank Centre London 2009
- Royal Opera House, London , 2009
- Hat Factory , Luton 2009
- Arena theatre , Wolverhampton Arts Festival, 2009
- India festival, Cardiff, 2009
- Other international performances:
- ICCR Festival of India in Brazil, May 2011 (covering Rio, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte
- Sonika MADRID
- Film Festival, Ireland, Dublin City Hall, June 2012
- Sweden, Stockholm, March 2014 , 2012
- Festival of India, Hungary, Budapest, May 2012
- EXPO 1998, Lisbon, Portugal
- India’s 50th year of Independence held in Bonn, Germany
- EXPO 2000, Hanover, Germany
- ICCR tour in 2003, Ministry of External Affairs of India, in prestigious venues in Australia, including Canberra Festival, Sydney Opera .House, Melbourne, Brisbane
- ICCR tour Fiji, 2003
- Arts Festival Thailand, ICCR tour 2003
- Arts Festival Malaysia, ICCR tour 2003
- International Festival, Indonesia, 2004
- Asian Arts Festival, Manila, Philippines, 2007
- India Week, Nurenburg , Frankfurt , 2005
- Tagore International Centre Berlin 2005
- Nehru centre, London 2001, 2005
- International Kuchipudi convention Cupertino, California, 2008
- India cultural Center, Malaysia 2010
- Education and Community workshops in London :
- British Airways Culture workshop , London November 2014
- TATA CONSULTANCY SERVICES workshop november 2015
- SAATCHI gallery workshop for hold and diwali by AKDC every year attended by Members of Parliament , House of Lords , Diplomats
- EPIC CIC workshops in Kensington and Chelsea , 2014
- Basingstoke Festival Workshops , July 2014
- Khushi Feet Festival, Kent 2012
- Camden Primary School, London 2012
- Orpington School, London 2011
- Brentford Old Age Home, London 2011
- Barlby Primary school, London 2011 EPIC CIC May 2014
- Blue Beard in collaboration with French Institut June 2014T Chelsea AND Westminster Hospital May 2014
- Judge Dance Showdown 2014
- Age UK Hounslow , London 2011-2012
Notable Performances in India
- Silicon Andhra Convention at Vijayawada December 2016
- ‘Sthree’ – Gurgaon April 2016, Mumbai October 2015
- Sshh….., A dramatic dialogue in dance theatre , choreographed by Arunima Kumar, CSOI, Delhi October 2014
- KALI – Gujarat July 2015
- O WOMAN – a choreographic production at India Habitat Centre, 2014
- Delhi Culture Festival, 2014
- International Book Fair, Delhi 2014
- Spic Macay tour across Uttar Pradesh 2013
- Lal Bahadur Shastri Academi , Mussoorie , November 2013
- i‘Shiva Shakti’ presented at Jaipur City Palace, February 2012
- Commonwealth Games India Solo recital,
- Raag Rang Festival
- October 2010 ICCR HORIZON SERIES, Azad Bhawan,
- October 2010 Khajuraho Dance Festival, 2010
- Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskaar Samaroh, Sangeet Natak Academy, Delhi, September 2009
- Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, for Karthik Fine Arts, Chennai December 2010
- Kuala Lumpur Convention , 2010
- Siva Shakti, Jaipur City Palace Durga Festival , Delhi , 2008,
- World Dance Day Celebrations, Habitat Center, May,
- Delhi International Arts festival
- Brahma Gana Sabha
- Nuungambakam Sabha
- Ustad Allauddin Khan Sammaroh , Mahiyar, Gwalior
- Bhavbhuti Gwalior Festival Nal Damyanti, Mahakavi
- Sanskrit Festival
- Benaras Pune Festival
- Mammalapuram, Chennai
- Jugal bandi with Kathak choreographed by Pt Birju Maharaj
- Budh Mahotsav Patna, 2007
- Jaya Smriti,by Hema Malini, Mumbai , 2007
- Radha Ashtami, Barsana , 2007
- Haridas Sammelan, Mumbai, 2007
- Indo European conference, ICCR 2007
- Fusion with Advaita, 2007
- Neemrana Fort Palace, 2007
- SAARC Festival 2007 JNU Festival 2007, 2008
- Mardol Festival Goa, 2006
- Goa international Centre, 2006
- Biotech Conference Hyderabad 2006
- Jhansi Mahotsav 2006
- Chamba Festival 2006
- Andhra bhawan Ugaadi, 2006
- Pratisthita , Habitat Centre 2006
- Kuchipudi dance festival in Kuchipudi Village
- National Choreography Festival at Habitat Centre 2003
- Qutab Festival in 2003
- Legends of India Festival at Kamani Auditorium, Delhi, 2004
- Kalidasa Festival at Nagpur in 2004
- SOPAN Festival 2004
- Legends of India Festival , Delhi , 2004, 2009
- India International Trade Fair – 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009 , 2010
- Virasat Festival at Dehradun in 2005
- India Habitat Centre HCL Series 2005
- Young dancers festival, Kolkata , 2004
- Qutab Festival 2003
- National Choreography festival 2003
- Delhi Tourism Festival , Delhi Haat 2003
- Delhi Tourism Festival , Santushti 2003
- Shringaramani award and festival , Mumbai, 2001
- Bharat Yatra Festival Lucknow, 2001
- Hyderabad Arts Festival, 2000
- Rangapravesham , Triveni, Delhi, 1998
- Amrapali Ballet , 1987