Hema Rajagopalan, Indian American founder and artistic director of Natya Dance Theatre, has been named the recipient of the See Chicago Dance 2021 Legacy Award.
The honor is accorded to an artistic leader who has enriched their community and made a significant and sustained impact on dance in Chicago, Illinois.
Rajagopalan is a Bharatanatyam dancer, teacher, and choreographer of international reputation.
Natya Dance Theatre is a professional touring company and school that has specialized in Bharatanatyam for more than 35 years.
According to the dance company, Rajagopalan’s “innovative work preserves Bharatanatyam in its full integrity, developing the art form in new directions and bringing it to diverse audiences all over the world.”
Rajagopalan performed as a soloist for three decades at prestigious venues throughout the world, receiving critical acclaim, according to Goodman Theatre. As an independent choreographer, it said, she has created 35 evening-length productions and numerous short works, and has also collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chitravina Ravikiran of India, and many other world-renowned artists.
Her many awards include seven choreographic awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the coveted Emmy Award. She received the Vishwa Kala Bharati Award for artistic excellence and was the first choreographer working in an Indian tradition to be selected among leading Chicago choreographers by the Chicago Dancemakers Forum, elaborated Goodman Theatre.