Malathi Iyengar

Malathi Iyengar, originally from Bangalore, India is a Los Angeles based choreographer, dancer, writer, and visual artist. Malathi holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Choreography and Performance from University of California, Los Angeles. Malathi studied Bharatanatyam (classical dance of India) from guru Narmada of Bangalore and choreography and improvisation under the mentorship of Marion Scott.

Iyengar is a recipient of several prestigious awards for her choreographic works including the 2013 C.O.L.A Choreography Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles and 2010 Lester Horton Award for Outstanding Achievement in World Dance 'Shivaya'. She is recognized as a Master Artist of Bharatanatyam dance by the Alliance for California Traditional Artists. Some of her other distinctions include Hind Rattan Award, Rainbow Award, California Culture-place Award, Hindu Temple Asthana Vidushi Award, Durfee Foundation Award, Brody Fellowship for Performing Arts, Alma Hawkins Award for Excellence in Choreography, John Lennon Performing Arts Award, Glorya Kaufman Award, J.. Watumull Award, and the National Endowment of the Arts. Iyengar is the author of 'Dance & Devotion' published by Rangoli Foundation.

Iyengar's creations reflect a wide range of artistic expressions ranging from traditional works to inter-cultural collaborations with artists of diverse cultures. Her critically acclaimed works include 'Shivaya', 'Patanjali', 'Kodhai's Dream', 'Punyakoti', 'Tulasi', 'Sacred Geometry', 'Love Lyrics', 'Ramayana', 'Mustard Seeds', & 'Creation Myth'. Malathi Iyengar & Rangoli Dance Company has performed extensively in USA, Canada, & India.

Drawing from her extensive experience as an artist, Iyengar regularly teaches Bharatanatyam, production and presentation seminars, and intercultural dance theater. In addition to being a prolific teacher and arts presenter, Iyengar has served as a panelist for several grant and award committees. Iyengar is known for speaking from her unique experiences with passion & conviction about leadership in arts as a part of her speaking engagement series, 'Dreams & Visions'. Iyengar has been the technical advisor for selected episodes of the popular Television Drama series 'Heroes'.

Iyengar, with a strong visual arts background has specialized in creating the 'Sand Mandalas' and 'Rangoli Art'. She has exhibited and created exquisite floor designs for various museums and institutions in India and United States. Some of her works have been commissioned by The Fullerton Museum's 'Diagram of the Cosmos', Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pacific Asia Museum, Loyola Marymount University, and the southern California Festival of India Series. She recently served as an advisor for the National Geographic Kids Magazine on the visual art of India 'Rangoli'.

Malathi Iyengar is the artistic director of the Rangoli Foundation for Art & Culture, a non-profit organization, which was founded in 1985. The Rangoli Foundation, recognized for its professional presentations, has not only showcased artists from around the world, but also has been instrumental in creating several opportunities for artists from India to share their talents in United States.

  • University of California, Los Angeles.
    Master of Fine Arts in Dance, March 1996
    Emphasis: Choreography & Performance.
  • University of California, Los Angeles.
    Professional Designation Certificate, 1977 - 1989
    Emphasis: Art & Design.
  • Bangalore University, India.
    Bachelor of Science, 1972
    Emphasis: Chemistry, Botany & Zoology
  • 2013 C.O.L.A. Choreography Fellowship (City of Los Angeles)
  • Malathi Iyengar is the recipient of 2010 Lester Horton Award for Outstanding Achievement in World Dance: 'Shivaya' by Rangoli Dance Company. The Award presented by Dance Resource Center (DRC) of Los Angeles is named after modern dance pioneer Lester Horton.
  • Karnataka Cultural Association of southern California (KCA-SC) Recognition 2009
  • Hind Rattan Award 2009 (NRI Welfare Society of India)
  • Rainbow Award (Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival) 2007
  • California Cultureplace Artist (ACTA) 2006
  • Asthana Vidushi - Recognition bestowed by Hindu Temple of southern California - July 2005
  • Alliance for California Traditional Artists - Master Artist 2004
  • Durfee Foundation Award 2000
  • Brody Fellowship for Performing Arts / Dance 1999
  • Alma Hawkins Award for Excellence in Choreography 1995
  • J. Watumull Award 1995
  • Glorya Kaufman Award 1994
  • John Lennon Performing Arts Award 1994
  • Pacific Design Center - Artistic Merit Award 1980
Publications Dance & Devotion: A Hand Book on Bharatanatyam dance and Traditional Prayers for students pursuing Indian Classical Dance. August 2004

Choreography & Staging

Mallari (2012)
Shivaya (2010)
Paintings of the Divine (2009)
Patanjali (2007)
Kodhai's Dream (2006)
Enduring Traditions (2005)
Jagadanandakaraka (2005)
Planting a Sequoia (2004)
Punyakoti (2004)
Tulasi (2004)
Sacred Geometry (2002)
Enduring Traditions (2002)
Love Lyrics (2001)
Legends of Heroism (2001)
Inter-Active Visual Poetry (2000)
Ramayana (2000)
Gati-Pragati (1999)
Dancing Divinities (1999)
Soorya Kanti (1997)
Aananda Narthana (1997)
Mustard Seeds (1996)
Narasimha (In the beginning 1995)
Creation Myth (In the beginning 1995)
Anubhava (Traditions & Innovations 1994)

Collaboration with guru Narmada
Ragamalika Varnam (2005)
Margam (1998)
Bharatanatyam (Rangoli Dance Festival 1996)
Parthasarathi (Traditions & Innovations 1994)
Skanda (1993)
Sri Raghavendra (1992)

Professional Experience

(Lectures, Demonstrations, Workshops, Master Classes & Residencies)

Rasika Arts Foundation, Bangalore, India
'Meet the Artist' Session with Rasika Dance Company

Santa Monica College, Adjunct Faculty, Department of Dance

California Institute for the Arts, Department of Critical Studies
NRI Welfare Society of India, New Delhi, India.

Master Class for Santa Monica College Dance Department.
California Institute for the Arts, Department of Critical Studies, Valencia, Ca.
Department of World Arts & Cultures, UCLA.

Otis College of Art & Design, Los Angeles - Art of Rangoli.

Mayfield Senior High School, Pasadena, Ca - Annual Arts Day
Karthik Fine Arts, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore, Chennai, India - Thematic presentation in a solo and a group performance
University of California, Los Angeles. World Arts & Culture Department.
University of Redlands, Redlands, California, Asian Studies Development Program.

California State University, Long Beach / South Asia Committee.

California State University, Los Angeles / Department of Theatre Arts & Dance - Rhythm and Expression in Bharatanatyam Dance.
Mayfield Senior High School, Pasadena, California - Bharatanatyam Residency and performance.

Dakshinachitra, Chennai, India -
'Dreams & Visions', Lecture, Discussion & Performance.
Los Angeles Trade & Technology College, Los Angeles - 'Music for Dance', Rhythms and Cross Rhythms.
Indian Institute of Plantation Management, Jnana Bharati Campus, Bangalore, India
'Dreams & Visions' – Discussion and Lecture for MBA program

University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Theater, Film, & Television
- 'Navarasa' in Indian Classical Dance
Loyola Marymount University, Marymount Institute and Department of Art and Art History, Los Angeles, CA –
‘Rangoli Art and Sand Mandala', Creation, Lecture, and Workshop.

California Polytechnic University, Pomona, Institute of New Dance & Cultures, Lecturer - Fall 1999

1994 - 96
University of California, Los Angeles. Department of Dance & World Arts & Cultures, Graduate Teaching Associate
Classes: Bharata Natyam dance & Production Design

Natya Institute of Kathak & Choreography, Bangalore, India
- Contemporary Intercultural Choreography, Improvisation and Production Design

1985 - Current
Rangoli Foundation for Art & Culture, Los Angeles, California. – Artistic Director
Performing Arts & Visual Arts. Performances, Lecture - Demonstrations, & Workshops
Performing Tree & Los Angeles Unified School District 1989 – 1995
Independent Contractor for the Artist in Residence program.

1963 - 1980
Architectural Designer & Graphic Artist 1980 - Current
'Rangoli', Floor Designs & 'Mandala' Creations 1963 – Current

Professional Activities

Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles - Panelist
Rangoli Art work for MetLife Print Ad celebrating 'Diwali', festival of lights.
Co presented the movie 'Dil To Pagal Hai' as apart of India Film Festival, Los Angeles.
Co Hosted Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival.
Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards, Panel Member.

National Geographic Kids Magazine, Art of Rangoli, Consultant
Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards, Panel Member

'Heroes', Television Drama Series, Technical Advisor

Los Angeles County Arts Commission Multi Disciplinary Arts Panelist

1998 - 2001
Los Angeles City Cultural Affairs Dept, Dance Panelist
Los Angeles City Cultural Affairs Dept, Committee Member, Festival of Festivals
Los Angeles City Cultural Affairs Dept, Coordinator, Millennium Festivals
Dance Resource Center, Los Angeles, Board Member

Western Alliance of Arts Administrators Foundation, Awards Committee.

1993- 1995
Dance Summit, University of California, Los Angeles
Dance Ethnology Forum, University of California, Los Angeles.
Gypsy Lore Society Conference. University of California, Los Angeles.
(Paper presentation and Kuravanji dance: South Indian Gypsy dance performance)
New Directions in Indian Dance Conference, Kalanidhi Fine Arts, Toronto.


  • Dance Resource Center
  • Narthaki, gateway to world of Indian dance
  • 'attendance' the dance annual, India
  • Gunagrahi, music and dance magazine, Bangalore, India
  • Sruti Foundation, Chennai, India
  • Indian and World Arts & Crafts, Delhi, India
  • Dance Critics Association, USA.