top of page

Sara Mikolai (1989) is a choreographer, dancer and interdisciplinary artist born in Berlin, of Sri Lankan-Tamil-German descent. In her work she activates sensory experiences and situations through live performance including dance, performance and sound, and she further works with video, installation and writing. Through a listening practice, she explores the relationship of dance and music, movement and sound through a somatic and decolonial approach. With a background in Bharatanatyam, she focuses on a critical and poetic engagement with epistemologies, aesthetics and practice of dance through critical inquiry, balancing an equilibrium of contextualizing the personal, historical and contemporary in art and everyday life.


*Ths website was created by Sara Mikolai, who holds all rights to the content of this site.



2020/            MPhil in Fine Arts, University of Peradeniya/Postgraduate Research Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Kandy

2019/2020    MFA in Performing Arts, Iceland University of the Arts, Reykjavík

2013/2016    BA Dance,Context,Choreography,Inter-University Centre for Dance(HZT)/UdK Berlin

2010/2012    BA Area Studies of Asia/Africa, Humboldt University of Berlin*

2015             Diploma in Bharatanatyam, Oriental Fine Arts Academy of London, U.K.

2012/2015    Carnatic vocal music (private lessons), Berlin, Germany
2010/2011    Mridangam drum (private lessons),Berlin, Germany

1993/2015    Bharatanatyam dance training, Abhinaya Tharpana Palli School for Indian dance, Berlin

Scholarships | Awards

2020/2022    German National Academic Foundation scholarship (Studienstiftung) for MPhil in Fine Arts

2019/2021    German National Academic Foundation scholarship (Studienstiftung) for MFA in Performing Arts studies

2015/2016    German National Academic Foundation scholarship (Studienstiftung) for BA Dance, Contect, Choreography

2005             Bharatanatyam competition „Dit Dit Tei“, solo, main category: Varnam, 1st prize, artist title Adet Kalayarassi, Gummersbach


  • Mikolai, Sara. Listening – sound narratives of a dance. Listening Biennial/Reader, p.20-41. Berlin:Errant Bodies Press, 2021. Republication 2022.

  • Mikolai, Sara. 2022. “On the interrelations between everyday life, artistic practice and resilience“ In: Moving Interventions 2: 
Between Non-cooperation and Community-building Practices of Resilience in dance – through dance – because of dance, December 2022. Translated (from English to German) by: Anja Tracksdorf (Tracksdorf Translations). Edited by / Herausgegeben von: Sarah Bergh and Sandra Chatterjee, with Ariadne Jacoby (CHAKKARs – moving interventions). Published by /veröffentlicht von CHAKKARs – moving interventions.

  • Mikolai, Sara. Listening – sound narratives of a dance. Many forms of learning, Year Four - MFA in Performing Arts graduation publication, p.44-58. Reykjavík.LHI - Iceland University of the Arts, 2020.


Works & Performances

2023   what´s left unsaid, at Asian Performing Artist Lab residency APAL, Ringtheater, Berlin

2022   Listening – sound narratives of a dance, at Across Asia Film Festival, in collab. with Fuorimargine, Sa Manifattura Theatre, Cagliari //

           The Listening Academy, The Art Academy, Bergen  //  Le Alleanze dei Corpi - Walk the Red Line, Milano

2021   Echoes of Listening: being with, installation (video,sound,garden), with Isuru Kumarasinghe, at Gangwon Triennial 2021, Gangwon

2021   Echoes of Listening, audio recording, with Isuru Kumarasinghe, at The Listening Biennial, Berlin,Madrid,Bergen,Kolkata,Hong Kong,Guadalajara,

           Quebec City,Dundee,Buenos Aires,Istanbul, Melbourne, Budapest,Makhanda,Kurdistan,Nagaland,Taipei

2020   Listening – sound narratives of a dance, at MFA graduation festival, Listaháskóli Íslands - Iceland University of the Arts

2019   performance at Ferment: Mutterkorn, apparatus GbR, with Jan Vahl,Uferstudios, Berlin

2018   sakhi 03.04, Tanztage Festival, Sophiensaele, Berlin

2017   Elegie IV, at Elegie - Pharmakon, curated by apparatus GbR, Uferstudios, Berlin

2017   intervention 03.03, at Hamamness-Wiener Festswochen, Vienna  //  Atmo performance art space, Berlin

2017   intervention03.02, at ACCA - Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts, Melbourne  //  Shakti-Colombo Dance Platform, Colombo  //

           BA graduation festival (2016), Uferstudios Berlin 

2016   Archiv Nr 7, at Spiegel Festival, Sophiensaele, Berlin  //  Tanztage Festival Sophiensaele, Berlin

2015   Mourning in Protest, at Live Art Festival-Hamamness, Kampnagel, Hamburg

2014   Chapter One, lecture performance, The Dotted Dance Project, with Kiran Kumar, at InZucht Festival, Uferstudios, Berlin

2013   Duppy Dance, with Tracy Rose, at Salon de Gat: Rose's Casa, The Art of Living, Berlin

2008   Bharatanatyam recital,Eastern University of Chenkalady, Batticaloa

2005   Bharatanatyam, Arangetram, solo recital, Ethnological Museum of Berlin

since 1996  Bharatanatyam performances,solo & group with Abhinaya Tharpana Palli School for Indian dance, Berlin



2024       Nomadic Solidarity artist residency, Playground, Munich

2023       Asian Performing Artists Lab - AmnAsia, The Farm & Berliner Ringtheater, Coswig/Berlin

2022       Celestial Bodies - Resonances, Vera Stasi, Tuscany ( participation cancelled due to Covid-19)

2019       Ferment: Mutterkorn, curated by apparatus GbR, Uferstudios, Berlin

2017       Pharmakon, apparatus GbR, Uferstudios, Berlin

2016/2017  Kasten Nr. 942n Exotischer Tanz, ARCHIV-ARBEIT VII, curated by Julius-Hans-Spiegel Zentrum, Sophiensaele, Berlin


Conferences | Lectures | Artist talks |  and more

2024   Tanzplattform Deutschland 2024, Dance-Making Across Decolonizing Perspectives: Dance Across Triangular Borders – Processes of                                                     Decolonization in Contemporary Dance, contribution to group video installation, curated by Sandra Chatterjea, Freiburg

2024   Movement Rhizome 2024.02 International Dance Studies conference at The Postgraduate Institute of Humanities & Social Sciences (PGIHS) / University of                 Peradeniya, in collaboration with Randolph College (Virginia), research presentation, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

2022   On listening as a decolonial strategy in dance aesthetics, research presentation, Université de Lille, Lille

2022   On listening as a decolonial strategy in dance aesthetics,The Listening Academy, The unfinished institution, Bergen 

2021   Listening Biennial, artist roundtable, online

2020   Rethinking the narrative of progress in Art, lecture performance, with Michelle Saenz Burrola, Hugarflug Conference, Iceland University

           of the Arts
2020   Echoes of close and far narratives, as part of the online series: Tradition & Heritage, Kälam, Jaffna

2018   Guest lecture at Decolonozing the Arts, Aesthetic Practices of Learning and Unlearning, University of the Arts Berlin

2018   Dancing in the dark, essay presentation, RAW Material Company, Dakar

2018   Parcours & Think Tank - Postmigrantische & (lokale) postkoloniale choreographische Perspektiven, contribution to group installation, curated by Sandra           

           Chatterjea Köşk, München

2018   artist talk at Red Dot Gallery, Colombo

2017   artist talk at Gertrude Contemporary Art, Melbourne

2017   artist talk at  Multi-Disciplinary Arts Department, Faculty of Fine Art, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai

2016   artist talk at Shakti-Colombo Dance platform, Colombo

2015   artist talk at Tanztage, Sophiensaele, Berlin


Teaching | Workshops | organizing | 

2021/today  BA, visiting lecturer, Department of Fine Arts, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

2023   The Listening Biennial, organizer/curatorial partner with Isuru Kumarasinghe for edition in Colombo, directed by Brandon Labelle,

           Bakeriya Space, Colombo
2023   Introduction into listening as a practice, workshop for children & teenagers at The Listening Biennial, Bakeriya Space, Colombo

2023   APAL - Asian Performing Artist Lab, jury member, Berlin/Bräsen

2022   On listening practices, workshop at NABA - New Academy of Fine Arts (The Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti), Milano

2022   On listening, moving, resting and being, workshop at Sa Manifattura, Cagliari  //  Le Alleanze dei Corpi festival, KinLab Milano

2021   Choreography Camp, organizer/mentor/teacher, Colombo

2021   Introduction into listening as a practice, workshop at Choreography Camp, Colombo

2018   mentor / teacher at Choreography Camp, Kalpitya

2018   Listening to dance, workshop at Eastern University, Batticaloa

2018   Listening to dance,  workshop for BA students, Inter-University Center for Dance Berlin (HZT) Berlin

2018   fellowship faculty member & mentor at CORPUS CALLOSUM, curated by Tracy Rose, RAW - Material Company,  Dakar

2017   Bharatanatyam, morning practice for BA & MA students, HZT, Berlin

2012   Bharatanatyam, workshop, assistant teacher Erbil, Iraq

2011/2020   mentoring Bharatanatyam students in Berlin

2006/2016   Bharatanatyam, Abhinaya Dharpana Dance school for South Indian dance, all levels, Berlin

2006/2012   teachers training, Abhinaya Tharpana school for Indian dance


Selected appearances as a performer | Dramaturge

2018   White Porcelain, dramaturgy for Venuri Perera and Zwoisy Mears-Clarke,Colombo

2018   Speaking Feminisms, guest performer for Tracey Rose,Savvy Contemporary,Berlin

2016   Mixing Performance practices, by Noha Ramadan, performer, NGBK Berlin

2014   Khoshbakhti (Happiness),film by Zara Zandieh, dancer, Berlin

2014   studio disorder, by Rodrigo Garcia Alves, performer,Uferstudios,Berlin

2012   Ashta Nayika, Abhinaya Tharpana school for Indian dance, he Ethnological Museum of Berlin



bottom of page