Photo credit: Juan Carlos Pometta Betancourt
Tara Pandeya is a second-generation dancer, teacher and choreographer of Eastern and Western heritage. She is an international performing artist who is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of dance from the Silk Road region of Central Asia. She specializes in dance from the regions of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, East Turkestan, Iran, Kurdistan and Azerbaijan.
As the daughter of a professional dancer and arts educator Tara was exposed to traditional dance and music since infancy. From childhood Tara trained in multiple styles including Classical South and North Indian, traditional Middle Eastern, Central Asian and ethno-contemporary dance. Tara began performing at a young age and was consistently the youngest performing member of all the companies she joined including: Bea's Knees, Aywah!, Kalanjali and Ballet Afsaneh, of which she was a member for fifteen years. She is a current member of Wan Chao Chang Dance Company and student of Kathak artist Antonia Minnecola (a disciple of Sitara Devi).
She has completed dance residencies in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Uyghur Autonomous Xinjiang, China also known as Chinese Turkestan. Tara also conducted anthropological dance research in these regions both through the 'Tajik Dance Initiative' and independently with dance scholars and traditional artists in the field.
She has traveled and studied in India, the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Europe. She holds an Arabic language certificate from Alif University in Fez, Morocco as well as through the University of California, Berkeley. Tara is also a CTSEOL (English as a Second Language) Certified Instructor from the Transworld School of San Francisco. She received her pilates instructor training in New York City at Ellie Herman Studio and is currently completing her certification by teaching pilates classes to acrobats and staff members on tour with Cirque du Soleil.
Tara holds a Bachelors degree in Liberal Arts with a minor in Arabic from Saint Mary's College LEAP (Liberal Education for Arts Professionals) Program. Following her artist in residency in Tajikistan, Tara wrote her thesis paper on Tajik identity as it relates to traditional performing arts. Accompanying her thesis, Tara made a one-hour dance documentary compiled from footage captured while in the Pamir Mountains.
Tara has choreographed solo works as well as numerous group pieces as a guest choreographer for several dance companies including Ballet Afsaneh, The Presidio Performing Arts Foundation, Shahrazad Dance company, Danceversity and the Tajik based dance company Padida Theater. Most recently, she premiered her solo piece 'Finding Center' under mentorship with master artist Charya Burt and supported by the CHIME fellowship at the Margaret Jenkin's Dance Lab in November 2010.
As a dancer, she is in demand being featured as a soloist both in the U.S. and internationally. Tara has earned merit for her artistic work from the California Arts Council, The Alliance for Traditional Arts, the Margaret Jenkin's Chime Choreography fellowship, the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards and the Marin Arts Council.
Tara also works in the Bay Area public school districts for K-High School as an arts educator teaching 'Geography of the Silk Road explored through Dance' in partnership with the arts education programs Youth In Arts and Young Imaginations.
She has collaborated with classical artists as well as popular Central Asian singers such as: Omid, Ehsan Aman, Moein, Andy, Haider Salim, Shabnam Suraya, Parvina and Habib Qaderi. Please refer to the ‘performances’ tab, to view her most recent concerts.
In 2009, Tara Co-founded the organization East West Centerpoint fiscally sponsored by Dancer's Group non-profit with her artistic partner Ostad Abbos Kosimov.
In 2010, Tara was cast as the lead character 'Oceane' (the goddess of water) in Cirque du Soleil's production of Dralion, which is touring internationally year round. She has performed over 1,500 shows to date with Dralion. She also acts as Dance Captain and Pilates Instructor for acrobats on tour with Cirque du Soleil.
In 2015, Tara won 1st place for a nationally televised dance competition in Tajikistan and was admitted as the first westerner to perform and join the Tajik National Ensemble in Dushanbe, Tajikistan where she currently resides. Most recently she performed and lectured with the UNESCO supported Shahidi Foundation.