Dance Past Faculty

Shanti Pillai

Shanti Pillai headshot

Photo by Jeremy Carroll


Shanti Pillai is an artist, scholar, and writer who lives and works throughout the year in Cuba, South India, and New York City. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology and International Relations from Stanford University (1989), an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley (1990), and a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University (2005).  Over the course of her career she has taught students from thirty countries at institutions on four continents.  She has offered classes in studio dance, and seminars on the performance practices of Asia, cultural policy and urban development, and issues of race, gender and class identities.  Her research interests include the globalization of Indian spiritual and performance traditions and the changing political economy which frames the relationship between tradition and modernity in India.  Her writing has appeared in The Drama Review, Women and Performance, the Dance Research Journal, Trialog and the blog of the Michigan Quarterly.

Shanti is a bharatanatyam dancer trained by T. Balasaraswati’s two senior disciples, Nandini Ramani of Chennai and Priyamvada Sankar of Montreal.  She has performed and given lecture demonstrations at various venues and universities.  She has also worked in contemporary dance and theater.  From 1991-1996 she performed with the Frente de Danza Independiente in Ecuador.  Since 2005 she has worked in Cuba, collaborating with dancers and actors and creating and performing in original works, including a multicultural version of Shakuntala in 2009.  Most recently in the United States she co-directed and produced Virgilio Piñera’s El Trac at New York City’s Dixon Place in 2011.  Her current project is an autobiographical solo of text and movement, Permanent Address.  She showed an excerpt as a work-in-progress at the Festival del Caribe in Havana in May 2013 and continues to work on the piece under guidance of theater director, Veenapani Chawla in Pondicherry, India

Shanti is currently the Resident Director of the Princeton Semester in Cuba, a program which she helped to create in 2010.  As Lecturer in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs she teaches a course during the semester in Havana on art and cultural policy in contemporary Cuba.

Dakshina Palli Presents Dakshina Palli Dance Co.

Campus Address

Lewis Center for the Arts
185 Nassau Street