Guru Vishal Ramani is the Founder and Artistic Director of Shri Krupa Dance Company in Cupertino, California. Shri Krupa Dance Company is a non-profit 501 © (3) organization dedicated to artistic excellence and expression of Bharatanatyam, the traditional Indian classical dance. Guru Ramani ranks as one of the early pioneers to nurture and promote Indian classical dance in California. An exponent of the Tanjore school of Bharatanatyam, Vishal worked tirelessly to create awareness and appreciation for Indian classical dance in the San Francisco Bay area. She is a cultural icon among the Indian diaspora for keeping alive Indian traditions and culture abroad and for bequeathing a cultural legacy for future generations. Vishal’s impact goes beyond the growing and vibrant Indian community in California. She has actively played a cultural ambassador for India to ensure that traditional Indian art and culture can flourish in a foreign soil. A testament to the profound impact Vishal has had on the cultural landscape in California is the numerous grants she has received from city of San Jose, Arts Council Silicon Valley and California Arts Council. In recognition of its unique cultural significance, Guru Ramani’s dance company Shri Krupa was included in the city of San Jose’s Multicultural Arts Incubation Program. It also has the honor of being the first Bharatanatyam dance company in residence at the San Jose Repertory Theatre. For over three decades, Smt. Vishal Ramani has dedicated her life to performing, teaching and creating awareness about the rich cultural art form of Bharatanatyam in the San Francisco Bay area.
Vishal Ramani established the first school for Bharatanatyam in the San Francisco Bay area in 1977. At a time when there was little exposure to Indian arts and culture, she choreographed the first dance ballets “Sculptor’s Dream” and “Shakuntalam” ever performed in Stanford University and the Chabot College in 1977. In 1982, Vishal was instrumental in arranging for the first live orchestra to accompany a dance recital in Northern California for the dance ballet “Shubhagaman”. She has established a tradition of getting renowned orchestra artists from India every year to perform at solo debut dance recitals (Arrangetram) and dance ballets. In 1983, Smt. Ramani was invited to perform the inaugural dance “Navadyuti: Rebuilding of a Nation” as part of the Mahatma Gandhi Week celebrations in San Francisco to an audience that included Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. An artiste par excellence, Smt. Ramani is well known for her innovative and creative dance productions. She has kept audiences enthralled by producing traditional ballets like “Ramayana”, “Saptha Thandavam”, “Kala Chakra” as well as modern ballets like “Sun: The Living Truth”, “Reflections: The Dawn of the Millennium” among others. Vishal’s artistic explorations with other cultures have led to innovative and brilliant productions. She has worked closely with the African Step Dancers of the Bajai community to produce a duet of Bhartanayam and African dance performed to the sound of African drums. Vishal has also collaborated with artists from China and Cambodia to create brilliant fusion performances at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts as well as the Montgomery Theatre in San Jose, California. Under Vishal’s artistic direction, Shri Krupa has performed over 77 dance productions at home and abroad.
An eloquent speaker and gifted writer, Vishal pursued her passion for the arts by educating audiences through the medium of television and the written word. The American public television KQED, profiled Vishal in an episode “Legacies”. In a rare tribute to Vishal, the program showcases her pioneering efforts nearly 30 years ago in fostering a creative environment for Indian tradition to flourish abroad. Her mission to keep Indian tradition alive inspired her to publish the magazine “Ved Vani”. A versatile and gifted artiste, Guru Vishal Ramani is a woman of uncommon artistry and rare compassion. She has supported fundraising efforts to build temples, raise funds for community associations, sponsored and hosted cross-cultural exchange of Indian artists of national repute like Padmashree Late Samjukta Panigrahi, Padma Vibushan Late Kelucharan Mohapatra and Padmashree Lalgudi Jayaraman among others.
In 2010, under Vishal’s guidance Shri Krupa launched the Saraswati Memorial Annual Concert Series to honor her mother, Smt Saraswati’s legacy and love for performing arts. The Saraswati Memorial Concert represents Shri Krupa commitment to promote the beauty of Indian Performing Arts while raising funds to support local non-profits in the San Francisco Bay area. In its inaugural concert on December 18, 2010, Shri Krupa raised over $5,000 for Martha’s Kitchen, an organization that is devoted to fighting hunger in our community.
Vishal Ramani’s most defining legacy is the discipline, hard work and devotion she has instilled in her students for Bharatanatyam in particular and Indian culture in general. Thousands of miles from India, Vishal continues to imbue her teaching with the Guru-Shishya parampara and has conducted Arangetrams for 122 students. Her students have performed to rave reviews both at home and abroad. They continue to perform regularly in India and have been well received. Guru Vishal Ramani and her student Nitya Venkateswaran were the first Master Teacher and Apprentice pair to be selected in Bharatanatyam under the prestigious Apprenticeship Program of the Alliance of California Traditional Arts. Vishal has also the rare privilege of working with the California Arts Council and San Jose Unified School district as Artist in Residence. In this capacity, she worked in the local schools giving lecture demonstrations and training students in the art of Bharatanatyam. Vishal trained 25 students from various schools in the San Jose Unified School district to perform a Bharatanatyam recital in the San Jose Civic Center to an American audience. In the last 33 years as a teacher, she has inspired students to set high standards, strive for excellence and be future leaders. Her students have performed at the Chennai Dance Festival; Ethnic Dance Festival in San Francisco; World Rhythm Festival, Seattle; APA Heritage Street Fair, San Francisco; Arudra Natyanjali Festival, Livermore; Summer Celebration, International Diplomacy Council, Atherton; Translations, Asian American Dance Performances, San Francisco; Ashkenaz, Berkeley and the APA Heritage Festival, Oakland among others.