Alarmel Valli was trained in Bharatanatyam under Guru Pandanallur Chokkalingam Pillai and his son Guru Subbaraya Pillai and has been performing for more than four decades. She has also learnt Odissi from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and his disciple Ramani Ranjan Jena. She has learnt padams and javalis under T.Muktha, the granddaughter of Veena Dhanammal.
She founded her dance school Dipashika in the year 1984 and has trained a number of students. She has choreographed works for her students that have been presented in Japan and USA. She has conducted workshops, participated in seminars and conferences and presented lecture demonstrations to spread an awareness of the art. A few of the forums in which she has worked include Spic Macay in India, the Societe Italiana del Flauto Dolce, The Philharmonic society in Rome, the International Sommertanzwochen in Vienna and Universities across the US.
She has worked with poets and musicians to create both solo and group compositions for dance. A significant contribution has been her study of ancient Sangam poetry in Tamil and the presentation of poems from Kalithogai, Kurunthogai, Ahananuru, Purananuru, Natrinai, Paripadal etc., choreographed as a fusion of lyric, music and movement.
Amongst numerous awards received by her are the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan conferred by the President of India, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and the Chevalier of Arts and Lettres award from the Government of France.
In 2004, The Films Division of India commissioned a film on Alarmel Valli for the Indian National Archives - ‘Pravahi’, directed by Arun Khopkar. The BBC also made a film on her for the Omnibus series. In 2012, Lasya Kavya, a film on her by Sankalp Meshram, won the National Award for Best Non-Feature Film on Art and Culture.
Alarmel Valli has danced at leading festivals in India and cultural vnues abroad, including the Bolshoi Theatre, the Theatre De La Ville and the Avignon Festival in France, the Edinburgh Festival, the Royal Albert Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the New York International Festival of Arts and The Kennedy Centre in the US, the Venice Biennale, the Lyon Biennale, the Frankfurt Alte Oper, the Vienna International Dance Festival and the Israel Festival.
Alarmel Valli, torch bearer of the Pandanallur tradition in Bharatanatyam was trained by the renowned guru Shri Chokkalingam Pillai and his son Shri Subbaraya Pillai. Thereafter, Alarmel came under the tutelage of Smt. T. Mukha and studied Padams and Javalis for many years. She learnt Odissi from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and his disciple, Guru Ramani Ranjan Jena. At the young age of 16 years, Valli was invited to perform at the International Dance Festival of the Sarah Bernardt Theatre De La Ville, in Paris.
She has been touring since then, on a regular basis, and has received acclamation for her dance performances in leading theatres throughout the world. Alarmel Valli founded 'Dipashikha', a Center for Performing Arts, in the year 1984.
Alamerl valli was conferred the Padmasri and Padmabhushan, two of India’s highest Civilian orders. Amongst her other awards are the Kalaimamani from Tamilnadu Government in 1979, Nritya Choodamani in 1985, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2002.
Eminent film maker Arun Khopar has directed a film onher, ”Pravahi” which was commissioned by the Film Division of India.
Alarmel Valli is married to Bhaskar Ghose, an IAS officer.