Suchitra Sairam is a highly committed Bharatanatyam artist with nearly 35 years in the field, and received foundational training in the Kalakshetra style from Smt. Padmini Chari (Nritya School of Bharatanatyam). Suchitra continued advanced training under legendary artists Sri V.P. and Smt. Shanta Dhananjayan, and Sri M.V. Narasimhachari (late) and Smt. M. Vasanthalakshmi. All of these artists are her great guides and inspirations as an artist, teacher, and arts presenter.
Suchitra founded Kala Vandanam in 2002 in St. Paul, MN. She is committed to education, performance, outreach and presentation to share the beauty of Bharatanatyam through Kala Vandanam’s work and high-caliber touring artists. She is passionate about presenting and teaching the art holistically, aligned with allied arts and with art as a vehicle to experience joy, develop humility and self-confidence, strive for excellence, and introspect for personal and artistic growth. Her work reflects a deeply personal blend of eastern and western values, methods, and aesthetics, as well as her multi-faceted background and interests.
Suchitra is the recipient of a 2015 Knight Arts Challenge award from the The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a 2016 “Next Step” grant from the McKnight Foundation, and 2017 and 2018 “Folk and Traditional Arts” grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board. She has also regularly served as a panelist for many arts programs, including the prestigious McKnight Fellowship for Dancers in 2020.
Suchitra’s artistic work has been received with appreciation, and is noted for its adherence to her gurus’ exacting standards and depth in both abstract and expressional dance. Suchitra’s performances as a soloist, a lead dancer in several Nritya productions, and as a guest artist in productions by Monica Cooley (Kala Nivedanam, Nashville, TN) have been received with appreciation. Solo performances over her career have supported fundraising activities for a variety of worthy causes in several cities in the US, and she engages in local cultural outreach on TPT-MN (Geetmala TV), through the St. Paul Art Crawl, and the Flint Hills Family Festival, amongst others. Suchitra is a skilled nattuvangam (vocal percussion and hand cymbals) artist, accompanying soloists and dance companies.
At Kala Vandanam, she has the good fortune of teaching a group of very committed students, and has presented ten students in their formal, full-length stage debuts, or Arangetram, and eighteen in their first solo concerts, or Salangai Pooja. Her students have earned awards in Twin Cities Bharatanatyam competitions since 2011 in solo and group categories, and won many awards in prestigious national competition, including at the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival and Saptami Foundation annual festival.
As a choreographer, Suchitra staged her first full-length work, Love Lyrics, in 2004 at the Minnesota Fringe Festival, which included the debut of several original group and solo choreographies. She has also been a guest choreographer for the Main Street School of Performing Arts Dance Company, creating and teaching an original work for their Spring 2015 Concert. Suchitra continues her choreographic explorations, with a wide repertoire of solo and ensemble Bharatanatyam works. Suchitra and Kala Vandanam premiered their newest original full-length ensemble production “Ritu – The Seasons” in January 2017.
Suchitra holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from MIT, and an MBA from the University of Texas-Dallas. After an extensive career in several industries, she co-founded a start-up toy company, Enlivenze LLC, in 2012. In addition to her passion for the arts and business interests, she volunteers her time support leadership development, and science and math education for girls.