In Focus: Anavarata Dance Institute

Anusia PillayThe Anavarata Dance Institute (ADI) [Registration No.044-238-NPO] is a community-based, non-profit organization constituted on 10 October 1993. We celebrate our 50th anniversary, and our UNESCO CID membership in 2011.  We are renewing our outreach initiative, by seeking partners and promoters outside our country.

 Our History began in 1959, when Rani and her sister Prema were amongst the first 3 South African girls to study Bharata Natyam in Madras, at the “Saraswathy Gnana Nilayam” under the tutelage of Srimathi K. Lalitha, and also  took lessons from Dr. Padma Subramanium. They returned to India in 1965 to study Kathak under Guru Krishna Kumar, a member of the Mysore State Nataka Academy.While in India, South African dancers were such a rarity that they were interviewed by the BBC on their experiences, and were  invited to tea with Prime Minister Nehru.  They ran the “Nydoo Sister’s School of Dance”, which later changed in 1993 when Prema emigrated to India, to ADI.

Anusia Pillay, the current Chairperson and Artistic Director;  studied Bharata Natyam and Kathak under both her mother  and aunt, since childhood and attended the same schools as her mother, in India.  This resulted in Anusia, literally, following in her mother’s famous footsteps.  Both Rani and Anusia advanced their Kathak knowledge under Guru Rajender Gangani of Kathak Kendra, in New Delhi, the son of Guru Kundanlall Gangani of the Jaipur Gharana. 

In addition, she studied Modern dance and Jazz under Desire Pickering in Durban; became the first South African exponent of Odissi; and was selected as leader and trainer of the official Malaysian Cultural dance troupe in S.A ; receiving training by the Malaysian Government in Kuala Lumpur in 2001.   She worked on two of Disney’s productions in SA- “The Lion King” in 2006/7 as trainer to the child artists, and “Beauty and the Beast” in 2008/9.  In addition, Anusia is an Honours graduate in Social Work and has also studied Early Childhood Education.  She is still an avid student of dance and has studied South African, African and Latin styles of Dance, amongst others.

Although we began with very traditional roots, we have successfully evolved into a totally contemporary, multi-cultural institution, while still maintaining our roots.  This is evident in our Mission:

  • To Create dance and theatrical works with a new and fresh flavour
  • To unite dancers and musicians of all cultures, promoting understanding and goodwill
  • To create a bonafide platform for the masses of talented artists, with a South African dance vocabulary
  • To develop a dance style which celebrates the uniqueness of South African Heritage

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement and promotion of high quality education in the art of dance; that believes that every person should have equal access and opportunity to quality dance education regardless of gender, age, ability, interest, socio-economic status or ethnicity. To that end, the organization provides professional development, leadership, support services, research and advocacy for artists in dance education across all genres of dance- all FREE OF CHARGE in previously disadvantaged communities.

ADI embraces all aspects of dance from performance to teaching; from multicultural, social and recreational dance to the advancement of dancers’ health- by utilising Dance as Therapy to all students –especially the Youth.

 ADI has a job creation element where unemployed professional artists( african traditional, contemporary,kwaito;  street dancing and hip hop) are developed in other dance genres- from classical, folk, and modern dances to create a unique and diverse vocabulary to our productions .  In SA we have also absorbed 8 professional Zimbabwean traditional artists into our team, who are resident in SA, from a group previously known as” I’thembelihle”. With our professional members, our main focus is creating productions with a body of contemporary dance improvised from western ; asian; Latin and African influences- including dance fusion, emergent dance and revisionism.   This is, in our way and belief, is representative of South Africa as a Rainbow Nation being the microcosm of the entire world’s cultures as the inhabitants of this planet are the “true Rainbow Nation”.

This year marks our 55th Anniversary as, in 1959, Rani(Nydoo) Govender (22 August 1944- 30 July 2005  and her sister Prema were amongst the first 3 South African girls to study Bharata Natyam in Madras, they returned to S.A. in 1961 and gave spellbinding performances at every major center, and  taught this art-form at the “Nydoo Sister’s School of Dance” to the young and often underprivileged youth- many of whom are now well-known dancers in their own right. While in India, South African dancers were such a rarity that they were interviewed by the BBC on their experiences, and were invited to tea with Prime Minister Nehru.  They returned to Indiain 1965 to study Kathak under Guru Krishna Kumar, a member of the Mysore State Nataka Academy.

They became the inspirations to generations of classical dancers in R. S. A.  They were invited to perform in the U.S.A., however, tragically their father passed away just before they could travel and they were unable to do so.  They also participated in a Standard Bank Centenary Celebration Documentary, filmed in S.A.

Prema emigrated to Chennai,India in 1994, where she still lives and teaches dance.  Rani and her daughter Anusia continued with the Dance work by renaming the Institute in 1993 to Anavarata Dance Institute, meaning “eternal”, describing the dance of Lord Shiva – without beginning or end, and is a registered community-based, non-profit organization.

The “Maru e Africa” Project (meaning “the Skies of Africa”) of the Institute was created when four friends, from different cultural backgrounds, came together to create a unique vision borne off their shared passion for dance- no matter the origin.  Its main focus is Skills Development in various relevant Youth and Community related issues; Job Creation; Nation Building; and Cultural Heritage Preservation and Promotion(Locally and Internationally); Anti- Xenophobic attitudes; Creation of Partnerships with other Related NPO’s and Community Organisations;  and Opportunities For Disadvantaged Individuals and Communities- All through the medium of Dance, Music and Performance Theatre- i.e Arts & Culture!

Promoting Unity in Diversity amongst the Youth in Soweto; Klipfontein View in Midrand; Benoni; Randburg and the greater Johannesburg area, we provide FREE tuition and training in Cultural Dance, Music and Cross-cultural “fusion performances”.  We aim to be outstanding South African Cultural ambassadors- a “one-stop cultural and entertainment facility”.


Apart from performances for Pres. Mandela (1994) and Queen Elizabeth II at CHOGM in November 1999, we have also co-ordinated and executed two International Cultural Exchange tours in 1995 and 1999 for the Governments of Mauritius and Malaysia, and has conducted mass choreography for the 9th African Athletics Championships (1993) and the Telkom Charity Cup (2006).  Local and International corporate performances include Pepsi Cola; TATA; BMW; Totalgaz; DBSA; and various government Departments.  Anusia has compeered College Events; events hosted by the Playhouse Company; International Cultural Tours; Corporate and Governmental events.  Anusia and the Institute have had the privilege of being a featured guest on several Radio and television programmes for Broadcasting Corporations all over the World.

We are a member of UNESCO Council of International Dance, CID. Our  most recent achievements are performing at the Inauguration of President Jacob Zuma, 9 May 2009;the Opening ceremonies of The Wonderboom Airport in October 2009;  the Pride of India Extravaganza in November 2009; Ibumba International Festival 2009 and for the Deputy Ministers of Tourism of Malaysia and South Africa, respectively in February 2010, Women’s day Event with SharleenSurtie- Richards in August 2010, and Sun City’s Deepavali Celebrations 2010. Anusia Pillay


Since South Africa is A Rainbow Nation, our diverse Repertoire reflects a melting pot of Cultures:

Afrikaner Volkspele; Sesotho; Pedi; Tsonga; Zulu; Batswana; AmaXhosa; Gumboot; Kaapse Klopse;  Pantsula; & lots more musical and singing traditions

Ethiopian; Egyptian; Senegal; Ivory Coast; Mozambique; Batswana; Zimbabwean; Nigerian;  Mauritius & Reunion

Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Malaysian


Bollywood, Classical, Authentic Folk , Maritial Arts & Tribal Dances, CONTEMPORARY, JAZZ,  HIP HOP & SALSA, MULTICULTURAL BLENDING OF DANCE STYLES: Drummers and musicians accompany our dancers.



Mobile: 084 510 5148

About lakshya

Editor for

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.