Chitra Subramanian is an Indian-American dancer, choreographer, and educator residing in Washington, DC. A Pittsburgh native originally from South India, Chitra currently teaches, choreographs, and performs with an emerging collective of artists called chitra.MOVES. Her aesthetic draws from Hip-Hop and Indian Classical foundations to tell stories, elevate artists, and meaningfully engage unseen and new audiences.
Chitra moved to America with her family at the age of three. The first place they lived was Lynchburg, Virginia, a major national center for conservative Christianity.
For Chitra’s family, this was a challenging and isolating place to be new immigrants. It was here Chitra first experienced what it feels like to be the other–a brownskinned kid with a hard-to-pronounce name and, as her school teachers often reminded her, a follower of a “sinful” religion.
A few years later, Chitra’s family relocated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and got introduced to the vibrant and close-knit South Indian immigrant community there.
In particular, the Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple served as a refuge. There, Chitra began her training in Bharatanatyam, an ancient Indian Classical Dance form. She studied under the internationally renowned teacher, Jaya Mani. At the age of 16, Chitra graduated through the rigorous performance of the Arangetram, the highest honor for those completing training.
Chitra moved to Washington, DC to attend American University and graduated with a Masters in Arts Management. Chitra’s relationship with Hip-Hop was nurtured in the Pittsburgh and DC club scenes with the support and inspiration of Black DJs, producers, and promoters, and through her longtime social justice work with children and families at a local nonprofit, M.O.M.I.E’s (Mentors of Minorities in Education), where she served many roles, including Executive Director. It was in spaces like the Shadow Lounge in Pittsburgh (Justin Strong), and ‘Reunion Thursdays’ at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room in DC (DJ’s Eurok and Orbit22) that helped forge lifelong friendships and propelled Chitra to immerse herself into the DC Hip-Hop scene. Heavily influenced by her immigrant roots and her love for Hip-Hop, Chitra has cultivated over 20 years of experience in youth work, dance teaching, choreography, performance, and learning.
The seeds for her collective, chitra.MOVES, were planted when engaging in deep community work with young dancers of all ages and levels while living in Cleveland. This transformative experience led her to continue building on this energy in DC and in her hometown, Pittsburgh. Through chitra.MOVES, Chitra utilizes her movement aesthetic to tell stories, elevate individual narratives, and celebrate community. Chitra’s core philosophy is to allow her dancers to move naturally: to pull out the unique dance gifts that live inside of each dancer while still operating within the core style Chitra brings.
Chitra has performed and presented works at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Millennium Stage and The REACH; Dance Place; Joe’s Movement Emporium; DanceUSADance; Three Rivers Arts Festival, and PearlPRESENTS Festival. She is also the recipient of the VOICES Residency (DC), the NextLOOKResidency (MD), and a recipient of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Fellowship. Most recently, Chitra/chitra.MOVES presented TEMPLE as a part ofDance Place’s Presenting Series, and sold-out three shows, including a special matinee performance for DC Public School students.
Chitra lives with her amazing family – husband, James, and daughters, Reeny and Aletta in Brookland, DC.