Established in 1977, NUS Indian Dance is a close-knit group of highly committed dancers that welcomes dancers into a dance family where growth and learning is encouraged. The group is faithfully guided by its Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer, Mrs Santha Bhaskar, a pioneer in the Indian cultural dance scene and Cultural Medallion recipient.

NUS Indian Dance pursues excellence in two styles of Indian dance – bharathanatyam and kathak – through rigorous and demanding training sessions aimed at maintaining high standards of performance. Dancers not only hone their dance skills but develop a deeper sense of self-confidence and cultural identity through their exploration of contemporary themes and concepts in every production.

Key Past Events

  • 2012 The Hungry Stones in collaboration with Raka Maitra, NUS Arts Festival
  • 2014Chudar – Shiva’s Fire in collaboration with NUS Indian Instrumental Ensemble, NUS Arts Festival
  • 2016NUS Arts Festival highlight Sambhavna
  • 2017NUS Arts Festival highlight Sambhavna 2.0
  • 2018NUS Arts Festival highlight Maya Yatra

Key Past Achievements

  • 2011Production of the Year, Tan Ean Kiam Arts Awards for Anweshana - The Search for Nalanda

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Santha Bhaskar

Artistic Director & Resident Choreographer

Mrs Santha Bhaskar has been a fixture of the arts scene in Singapore since its nation-building days. As a prolific choreographer, she is known for her rich repertoire of epic dance dramas staged in the classical Indian idiom, with a lyrical sophistication that would equally inform her cross-cultural and experimental works. As a tireless dance educator, she has given individualised training to numerous performers in the Bharatanatyam tradition.

Mrs Bhaskar mastered the art of Bharatanatyam and Kathakali as a graduate of the Arya Kala Nilayam in Kerala and a disciple of great gurus such as Ramunni Panicker, Guru Kunchu Kurup and Kutralam Ganesam Pillai. Her career as a young dancer began in 1955 when she taught, performed and choreographed as part of Bhaskar’s Academy of Dance. In 1958, her choreography and performance for an Indian dance rendition of the Chinese folk tale Butterfly Lovers made it an unprecedented hit, with a week-long run at Victoria Theatre. She taught Indian dance for many years at the National Theatre where the dance group was housed until the mid-1980s.

Her choreography has become known for incorporating Chinese, Malay and Thai dance styles, engaging with concepts of science and the human condition, as well as notably, setting local poems in all four official languages of Singapore to Indian dance in Rasa and Dhwani (2003/2012), staged at the Esplanade. In 2016, Sambhavna, a collaborative work-in-progress with Centre for Quantum Technology for NUS Arts Festival, involved light, video and dramatic interventions.

Santha Bhaskar has received numerous awards and titles in Singapore and India, including the title Natyakala Nidhi conferred by the great Tamil Nadu poet Sudhananda Bharathi in 1964, the Kala Ratna Award from the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society, the Kala Rani Award from the Indian Film and Arts Society and the Cultural Medallion for dance from the National Arts Council in 1990. She is a long-time resident choreographer at NUS Indian Dance where she has been teaching dance for four decades since it was established in 1977. She is also artistic director of the Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society and chief choreographer of Bhaskar’s Arts Academy.