Dr. Avanthi Meduri

Avanthi Meduri
Dr. Avanthi Meduri is a well-known Indian performing arts scholar, academic, dancer-actress, singer, playwright, and curator. Recipient of several national and international awards and fellowships, Meduri has published extensively, and taught in premier universities in India, US and UK in the last three decades.

Meduri has taken early retirement recently and is working as a Freelance Arts and Education Consultant in Bangalore. She holds an Honorary Senior Research Fellow Appointment at the University of Roehampton, London. She is the Equality/Diversity and Inclusivity Officer for UK Dance and serves on the Arts and Education Board of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, London.
Born in Chennai, Meduri trained from a very young age in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi from Padmashri Guru Adyar Lakshman and Dr Vempati Chinna Sathyam and performed successfully on national and international stages.

In the late 1980s, Meduri stepped out a professional career in dance to pursue academic studies in the US. Meduri received an MA in English Literature from the University of Texas at Austin; and PhD from the Department of Performance Studies, Tisch School of Arts, New York University in 1996. Her dissertation, entitled “Nation, Woman, Representation: The Sutured History of the Devadasi and her Dance,” was published in 1996.
In the US, Meduri created interdisciplinary and cross arts programmes focused on Indian Dance migration in the World Arts and Cultures Department, UCLA (1993-1996); the Department of Dance at Riverside (1993-1996) and Department of Performance Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston, (1996-2000).

Arts Practice as Research

In the 1990s, Meduri collaborated with renowned US dance scholars and developed Practice as Research and Talking Dance performances. These projects, entitled, Dancing the Nation, Birth of Bharatnatyam and the Invisible Limp, were presented in US universities and community venues as well.

In 1991, Meduri received the Telugu Association of North Americas’s TANA award for outstanding contributions in performing arts. In 1992, Meduri received the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) collaboration grant for Matsya (Fish). The production restaged the ten incarnations of God Vishnu as a dialogue between Indian Tradition and Modernity.
Avanthi Meduri
In 1996, Meduri adapted her doctoral thesis into a bilingual play on a collaboration grant from the India Foundation for Arts (IFA). The theatre production, entitled, God Has Changed His Name, was realized in collaboration with the renowned Kootu-p-pattarai Tamil theatre company in Chennai, and staged in twenty-six cities in India. It was also featured as a Tamil production in 1998.

In 2000 Meduri received the Ford Foundation postdoctoral grant and set up the Centre for Contemporary Culture in New Delhi. As Academic Director of CCC, Meduri curated the Rukmini Devi Arundale (1904-1986) photo-archive and presented it in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Japan and the UK in 2003-2004.

Meduri also conceived three Talking Dance scripts featuring the global vision of Rukminini Devi Arundale. She developed these performances by focusing on historical silences in women’s biographies which she theatricalized with the help of metaphor and movement.

In 2004, Meduri was appointed as a Reader at the University of Roehampton, London and founded the first global South Asian Dance Masters in all of UK and Europe. The Masters programme attracted students from around the world and was recognized as a flagship arts initiative and received endorsements in UK Dance Higher Education.

Avanthi Meduri
A Fellow at the International Research Centre, Freie University, Berlin, Meduri is co-founder of the Asian Performing Arts Forum, London, a consortia of three London Universities engaged with Asian dance, theatre and performance.

In 2013, Meduri received the Mohan Khokar award for overall contribution to the arts (2013); Trinity Arts Award for international contribution to Indian performing arts (2014) and Moutikam, Kuchipudi Art Academy award for excellent contribution to arts research and scholarship (2020).