Pranita Nayar headshot

Pranita Nayar


For over 25 years, I have been active in Chicago as an artist, director, and curator of dance and a wealth of performing arts forms. Currently, I am the Artistic Director of Mandala South Asian Performing Arts, where I lend my expertise curating international artistic performances and workshops in the Chicago area. Through the years I have directed several artistic exchanges, including projects funded by the MacArthur Foundation. In 2008, I directed an exchange with folk musicians from the Roma gypsy community of Rajasthan to collaborate with dancers in Chicago. In 2009, the Old Town School of Folk Music received support for a nine-city trip to India and hired me as the consultant to lead the tour. Both exchanges were with Kalapriya Center for Indian Performing Arts, an organization I founded and directed for over 20 years. With Mandala, I am building platforms for artists outside of India.

Between 2014 and 2017, I have produced a diverse array of public events that offer authentic experiences in the performing traditions of South Asia. As Artistic Director of Mandala, I find that traditional South Asian forms rely on history and preservation, and that these forms are interpreted solely by their respective communities. The South Asian diaspora continues to change and grow, with shifting cultural forces from all over the world. I address this globalization by building contemporary and inclusive programming. From the Himalayas to Indian Ocean, and from Persia to Indonesia, I choose to celebrate the performance traditions of the South Asian region.

In support of the rich artistry of South Asia, I have curated and presented international and local artists alike, and offer world-class platforms (Art Institute of Chicago, Auditorium Theater, and international festivals, to name a few). These artists and performances include: the dance and music of Gujarati Black Sufis; Nepalese dance by local artist Prajwal Ratna Charya; Kandyan dance of Sri Lanka by Sudesh Mantillake; Balinese Dance, Gamelan and Shadow Puppetry (Wayang Kulit) by local artist I Gusti Ngurah Kertayuda; and Islamic-Influenced Santoor (a hammer-dulcimer) by international master Satish Vyas. Through presentation and collaboration, I continually seek new influences to inspire and expand my artistry and programming.

Pranita Nayar has crowd-funded a project with 3AP