Monica Cooley is a respected performer and teacher of Bharatanatyam, the beautiful and intricate classical dance form of southern India. An American born in Singapore and raised in Indonesia, Ms. Cooley learned Indonesian dance forms as a child, as well as Western classical ballet, before being introduced to Bharatanatyam in 1979 in the southern Indian city of Madurai. Her early teachers of Bharatanatyam were Mrs. Neela Krishnamurthi in Madurai and Mrs. Sujaya Dixit in Atlanta, GA.
In 1986, she went to live in Madras, India for intensive professional training at Kala Samarpana, the institution of renowned dancers, Narasimhachari and Vasanthalakshmi, with whom she continues to maintain a close working relationship. Under their careful guidance, Monica worked to master the demanding physical technique and graceful art of expression required of Bharatanatyam dancers. Her Arangetram (debut performance) took place in Madras, India in September 1989.
As a disciple of the Narasimhacharis, Monica belongs to the Kalakshetra tradition of Bharatanatyam, which is known for its precise technique, sharp footwork and emphasis on bhakti (religious devotion) in expression. Her repertoire consists primarily of the Narasimhacharis’ unique choreography, which unites strong technique with intricate rhythms and extraordinary music.
Monica is an active performer, teacher and choreographer. Always conscious of her responsibility to the Kalakshetra lineage, Monica is dedicated to maintaining the same purity of purpose and high standards of technical excellence passed down to her by her gurus. She is committed to sharing with her students and her audiences the extraordinary beauty and spirituality of this classical dance tradition.