What distinguishes Shobana Chandrakumar, who started training at three and performing at nine, from the dozens of other Bharatanatyam dancers now working in and touring outside of India is that she’s also an award-winning film actress. She returns to Symphony Space just as Pamela Rooks’s recently released Dance Like a Man, in which the dancer stars, appears in the third annual Indo-American Arts Council’s film festival, focusing on the Indian diaspora. It highlights the terrible conditions under which most Indian classical dancers worked in the 1970s, when their form was first emerging from years of suppression and misrepresentation. The 102-minute film can be seen Thursday, November 6, at 9 at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue (also in the cast is Ravi Shankar’s daughter
Anoushka, who plays the sitar, acts, and dances).

Uptown, Shobana will perform with 10 dancers and musicians in Sampradaya—From Myth to Modernity, which explores traditional compositions with a modern musical energy. In her spare time, the 33-year-old virtuoso directs her own school, Kalarpana, in her native Madras. Her website,, provides details on her various careers, accompanied by bewitching music.