Guru: Mimi Janislawski

Mimi Janislawski, PhD, a master of classical eastern dance traditions, shares the universality of these dance forms, making their essence applicable to your individual art and daily living.
Creative & Ritual Aspects of Classical Eastern Dance Traditions

A national treasure, Mimi's work is best described in the following reviews:

"Watching Srimpi, the court dance from Java, was like being initiated into Transcendental Meditation. The mood was hypnotic ..."
- Jamila Salimpour


"She kept one in a constant spell, enchanted by her eloquence in dance. With respect, care and technique, her programs are a vehicle of esthetic and spiritual values....a master who has devoted a lifetime to art. I have not seen many who do it as lovingly well as Mimi."
- San Francisco Dance Scene
"Most striking was Mimi's skilled and arresting pantomime, slashing eyes, undulating head, and deft fingers... a visual feast for the spectator. She created living dance theater of enormous vitality."
- Oakland Tribune
"...with a sense of overwhelming beauty and perfection, the audience was moved to a prolonged standing ovation."
- Berkeley Daily Californian


Over the course of this weekend workshop participants learn movements symbolizing the awakening and dedication of Body, Mind and Spirit. With an emphasis on hand, head and eye gestures, Mimi shares the universality of this dance form, making it most accessible so that participants can relate its application to their individual art and daily living.

There is a correlation with yoga and meditation practioners, as well as persons involved in visual and/or performing arts ~ i.e., painters, sculptors, theater/performance artists, poets, storytellers, as well as dancers in general.

Mimi, native to San Francisco, has traveled a unique path to her chosen career as an exponent of Bharatanatyam. She began her dance career in classical ballet, graduated from the Royal Ballet, London, and was awared the Solo Seat, the highest degree of the royal academy of dancing. In London she began her study of Bharatanatyam from Balasundari of Kalakshetra, 1968-70. Upon returning to her home, she trained under the late T. Balasarasvati, 1971-76.

Mimi has performed locally and internationally in a wide vaiety of settings - concert, theaters, museums, universities, art festivals - ranging from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to the Temple of Karnak, Luxor, Egypt. Tours since 1979 have included India, Egypt, England and the US. Her large repertoire consists of dances from the ancient classics to original compositions in the traditional style. She has maintained a school in the Bay area for twenty-two years.

In addition to her mastery of Bharatanatyam, becoming the embodiment of a heavenly Goddess come to Earth, what also sets this *extraordinary* artist apart is that her repertoire includes all of the following: classical dance of Japan, classical Chinese court and character dance, Javanese court dance, Balinese ritual temple dance, Sudanese and Korean dance. In addition, she has created an Egyptian Suite, the culmination of tremendous research bringing to life the ancient dance of Egypt complete with an explanation of the meaning of the gestures from the hieroglyphics and how these accumulated gestures were put together. This dance was performed at the Temple of Karnak by invitation of the Egyptian Government, Department of Antiquities.

Click here for collage from Goddess Retreat
California ~ 6/2005

* * *

REVIEW of 2000 Master Class & Performance with the enchanting * Ms. Mimi *

" Triumphant! "

15 participants took class with this legendary artist
July 7-9, 2000 ~ MIMI JANISLAWSKI
Little Pond Retreat, Nazareth, PA

an art, a science,
a spiritual tradition of Vedic origin where myth,
music, history, art and poetry unite in dance.

at Little Pond, a lovely Pennyslvania
countryside locale dedicated to
art and the transcendent.

This special event also included:

Classical Ethnic Dance Concert
featuring MIMI & TAHYA*
Touchstone Theater
Bethlehem, PA

*Click here to order professional digitally mastered video of the concert.


April Helmer, one of the retreat participants, a full-time journalist and aspiring poet currently studying Danse Orientale, had this to say:


Bhartanatyam dance class with Mimi Janislawski
revealed ethereal perspective to life.

By April Helmer, Easton, PA


Lehigh Valley residents were recently treated to a rare Pennsylvania performance by Mimi Janislawski who demonstrated her expertise in both Classical South Indian and Javanese court dance.

The sold-out crowd at the Touchstone Theater in Bethlehem, Pa., saw an invocation to Shiva, the god of dance, in addition to several other pieces including Abhinaya ~ The Art of Gesture, bringing poetry to life through dance. Mimi selected poems celebrating the mystic tradition of "the God as Lover" by Rabindranath Tagore, 18th century, Bengal, and Jelaluddin Rumi, 13th century, Persia. As Tahya melodically narrated the text, Mimi spoke in silence, demonstrating each word with movements that brought the poetry to light.

She also performed a breath-taking visualization and meditation on the Goddess in her three universal forms as the Mother of Creation, Goddess of Destruction and Divine Consort from the Saundarya Lahari Tantra written by Sri Shamkar Bhagava, "The Ocean of Divine Beauty."

The concert was part of a weekend-long retreat (July 7-9, 2000) at Little Pond Retreat in Upper Nazareth Township, Pennsylvania, where 15 participants were introduced to Bharatanatyam, classical South Indian dance traditions, with a focus on hand, head and eye movements to relay dance, ritual and a story.

Students said afterwards that they were filled by the experience which both grounded them and gave an ethereal perspective to life. "I looked forward to this weekend with Mimi for weeks and my expectations were exceeded," said Donna Haney, painter and yoga intructor. "From beginning to end, the retreat was memorable, enjoyable, fun, interesting, and wonderful. This retreat afforded the opportunity to truly recognize dance as a sacred expression."

"This retreat afforded the opportunity to truly recognize
dance as a sacred expression."
Donna Haney, painter & yoga instructor

Hannah Nour, featured soloist at the Ibis in New York City, participated in the weekend workshop and was grateful "for the opportunity to be exposed to such a dedicated artist. Mimi's artistry and skill in communicating this ancient dance form in a classroom enviroment were unparalleled only by her ease, precision, and total immersion in this unique art as displayed in her performance at the Touchstone Theatre."

Alessandra Bernasconi, a massage therapist, said she enjoyed a "wonderful energy created by beautiful people in an amazing place. I wish there would have been more time to create, to experience, to enjoy." Plans are now in the works for a similiar workshop in the future extended to four days.

Mimi was in the area at the request of a former student, Tahya, who wanted to expose more people with the ancient Vedic tradition. The teacher flew in from California where she continues to teach Indian dance between performances around the world, including the Temple of Karnak by invitation of the Egyptian Government, Department of Antiquities.

Dance has always been Mimi's life. She began her dance career in classical ballet, graduated from the Royal Ballet, London, and was awarded the Solo Seat, the highest degree of the royal academy of dancing, but she left the Royal Ballet to learn Eastern dance. She began her study of Bharatanatyam from Balasundari of Kalakshetra, in 1968.

Her graceful yet precise movements captivated the audience at Touchstone, drawing them into the stories of Vedic gods and the honoring of those gods. She uses the earth as a drum and an offering of flowers to Shiva, the god of dance, to set the tone before moving to narrated poetry and legends of the East.

Mimi's costumes were elegant and traditional, with meticulously folded saris and, for the Javanese dance, a handmade headdress of buffalo leather studded with jewels that under the lights sparkled like fireflies on a summer's eve.

Her grand braid swayed and batted from side to side of Mimi's petite frame, while still keeping in control to meet precision in each karana and mudra.

The concert also included a dance by Tahya performing Egyptian beledy, which sent the audience into rhythmic clapping. She danced with her own shadow in parts, taking advantage of the sensual lighting of the stage, giving wings to her veil and finger cymbals.

Most of the attendants at the Saturday evening concert, as well as the weekend's retreat at Little Pond, have studied Danse Orientale with Tahya. Tahya, who currently resides in the Lehigh Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, has been devoted to presenting as well as teaching dances steeped in antiquity for over 20 years.


Click here for collage from Goddess Retreat in California 6/2005.

Click here for review(s) of Mimi's *return engagement* at Little Pond
May 31-June 3, 2001

Click here for photo gallery of Mimi's 2001 *return engagement* at Little Pond

Click here for photo gallery of July 2000 weekend with Mimi at Little Pond Retreat


To read Morning Call feature on Mimi:
by Kathryn Williams
Click here