Mythili Kumar – Artistic Director

Mythili Kumar is the founder and artistic director of Abhinaya Dance Company of San José. An exponent of three different Indian classical dance forms: Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, and Odissi, Mythili Kumar’s commanding stage presence speaks of many years of rigorous training under skilled teachers in India. Her gurus were Smt. Indra Rajan, Sri T.R. Devanathan and Smt. Kalanidhi Narayanan for Bharatanatyam, Sri Vendantam Jagannatha Sharma for Kuchipudi, and Guru Srinath Raut and Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra for Odissi.

An accomplished artist, Mythili performed extensively in India before moving to the U.S. in 1978. Her artistic ability and high quality of her dance choreography have been recognized in the U.S. where she has been awarded several Choreographers’ fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Bharath Kalachar in Chennai awarded her the title “Viswa Kala Bharati” in 1999. In 2002, the Shiva Vishnu Temple awarded her the title Abhinaya Kala Ratna.

In 1994 and 2007 the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Committee honored her for her outstanding artistry and contribution to world dance, and conferred the Malonga Casquelord Lifetime Achievement award on her in 2010.

Mythili Kumar received a “Sustained Achievement Award” by the Bay Area Isadora Duncan Award Committee in March 2011. In addition, Soorya Performing Arts of St. Louis awarded her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in April 2011. Julie Mushet, Executive Director of World Arts West, announced the creation of the “Mythili Kumar Award” to be presented every year at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival to an exceptionally promising upcoming artist. She was the winner of the 2015 Legacy Laureate Award from Silicon Valley Creates for her outstanding dedication to the art form. In 2019, Bharathi Tamil Sangam honored Mythili Kumar with a title ‘Nadana Shirormani’ for her invaluable contributions to the Bharatanatyam art form. She was honoured with the title “Smaran Kala Kaushala” during the Smaran dance festival and was also honored with the 2019 Inspire Award by India Community center (ICC) the same year.

Mythili Kumar has taught Indian dance at Stanford University, San José State University, and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Photo credit: Viggy Mokkarala