Viji Prakash is a US-based dancer, choreographer and teacher of Bharata Natyam who has trained with gurus Kalyanasundaram and Mahalingam Pillai, grandmasters of the Tanjavur tradition and directors of the Sri Raja Rajeswari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir, Bombay. Prakash has also studied Mohini Attam and Kathakali with Dr. Kanak Rele at Nalanda Maha Vidyalaya.
Founder-director of the Shakti School of Bharata Natyam (1976), and its performing affiliate-the Shakti Dance Company, Viji Prakash has performed and toured extensively in the USA, Europe, and Asia. She has trained hundreds of students in the field of Bharata Natyam. Prakash received the "Best Guru" award from Madras Music Academy, Chennai, India in 2001.
Prakash trains dancers, produces, and presents an array of programs, each with a compelling programmatic vision that is committed to the advancement of artists and the promotion of Indian classical arts in the Southern California. Her Shakti School of Dance has a robust enrollment of over 150 students between the ages of 6-65. Each summer she hosts intensive dance camps in Los Angeles for her students with master artists from India. Some of her disciples are leading dancers and dance teachers in the field.
In October 2013 forty dancers of the Shakti Dance Company presented MARA -a multimedia dance/music production supported by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and presented at the Ford Amphitheater in Hollywood, California.
In 2012, Shakti Dance Company was invited to perform at the 53rd Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration at the prestigious Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, The Music Center. The same year, Prakash was invited by the Los Angeles County Arts Museum's South East Asian Arts council to present the production Devadasi Tradition at the Bing Auditorium featuring over 30 dancers from the Shakti Dance Company.
In 2009 Prakash was selected to conduct workshops and stage performances for over 1,000 youth in Yogyakarta, Indonesia through the UCLA/Indonesia Arts Education Residency Fellowship Program of the UCLA Center for Intercultural Performance and supported the U.S. Department Of State, Bureau Of Educational & Cultural Affairs.
Also in 2009 in a programme by the Foundation for World Arts and with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and Department of Cultural Affairs City of Los Angeles, the Shakti Dance Company was presented as one of the best of LA's cultural offerings at the Guadalajara International Festival. This project was a programme of the World Festival of Sacred Music. Prakash and the Shakti Dance Company have performed in the World Festival of Sacred Music-Los Angeles (2002, 2005, 2008)-LA's largest citywide festival.
Prakash’s choreographic works also include the Los Angeles Festival's Sons of Kunti at the Wadsworth Theater, the musical Purandaradasa and Meera at the Terrace Theater, Long Beach Convention Center, Manifestations of Shakti at the Japan America Theater, Dance of the Immortals at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the nation wide tours of Meera and Shyama. Her choreographic works, Shiva-Shakti, Saint Meera and Prince to Buddha - Journey to Enlightenment toured the US in s2005/2006.
A two-time recipient of the Brody Choreographic fellowship, California Arts Council award and the Excellence in Arts Award of the Torrance Cultural Arts Commission, Prakash is an Associate Professor of dance in World Arts & Culture, UCLA.
Prakash has conceived and produced six instructional Bharata Naytam audio CDs to support the practice of the dance among her students.
Viji Prakash’s disciple and daughter Mythili Prakash is a leading dancer in Bharatanatyam in America and in India. Her son Aditya Prakash is a proficient Carnatic vocalist and is lead vocalist for the Los Angeles based Aditya Prakash Ensemble.