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Sara Mikolai is a a choreographer and interdisciplinary artist born in Berlin, of Sri Lankan-Tamil-German descent. With a background in dance, in her work she focuses on a critical and poetic engagement with epistemologies of dance through somatic practice, critical inquiry and balancing an equilibrium of contextualizing the personal, historical and contemporary in art and everyday life. With a focus on the body as well as activating sensorial experiences, she mainly works with live performance, sound, video, installation and writing. Attending to both artistic practice and research has been essential for her to hold a sustainable commitment of allowing each process to inform the other. She explores the relationship between movement, body and sound through a listening practice since 2015, which has moreover stimulated her to ecological reflection in relation to the body and the ecosystems we are part of, as active listening inevitably includes the environment.

She has studied and trained Bharatanatyam since 1994 under her teacher and mother Diana Mikolai at the Abhinaya Dharpana School for Indian dance in Berlin. Sara has performed with the dance school since 1996, mostly but not limited to grass-roots organized events in the diaspora in Germany. She has performed her Arangetram (solo dance debut) in 2006 with a live orchestra at The Ethnological Museum of Berlin. She graduated in BA Dance, Context & Choreography at HZT Berlin (University of the Arts Berlin), as well as in the MFA in Performing Arts program at the Iceland University of the Arts, Reykjavik. She further holds a diploma in Bharatanatyam from the Oriental Fine Arts Academy of London. Currently she is conducting research in the MPhil in Fine Arts research program at the Department of Fine Arts, University of Peradeniya/Postgraduate Research Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences in Kandy, Sri Lanka. For her BA, MFA and MPhil studies she has received a scholarship by the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.



2020/present 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 (Ofaal)

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

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 award 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

2022   Listening – sound narratives of a dance, Across Asia Film Festival,in collab. with Fuorimargine                 dance&performing arts production center of Sardinia,Sa Manifattura Theatre,Cagliari

2022   Listening–sound narratives of a dance,The Listening Academy,The Art Academy,Bergen  

2022   Listening–sound narratives of a dance,Le Alleanze dei Corpi,Milano

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

2021   Echoes of Listening,audio recording,with Isuru Kumarasinghe,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,MFA graduation festival,LHI-Iceland University of the Arts

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

2018   installation (no name),artistic response,Parcours,Kösk München

2018   sakhi 03.04,Tanztage Festival,Sophiensaele,Berlin

2017   performance at Elegie - Pharmakon,apparatus GbR,Uferstudios,Berlin

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

2017   intervention03.02,ACCA-Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts,Melbourne/Shakti-Colombo Dance                   platform,Colombo/BA graduation festival,Uferstudios Berlin (2016)

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

2015   Mourning in Protest,concept Sara Mikolai,performance Garunya K./Sara Mikolai,Live Art Festival-                 Hamamness, Kampnagel, Hamburg

2014   Chapter One,lecture performance,The Dotted Dance Project,InZucht Festival, Uferstudios, Berlin

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

2008   Bharatanatyam recital,Eastern University of Chenkalady,Sri Lanka

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

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



2022       Celestial Bodies-Resonances,Vera Stasi,Tuscania,Italy - 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

2022   Research presentation,Université de Lille

2022   The Listening Academy, research presentation, The unfinished institution, Bergen 

2021   Listening Biennial, artist roundtable, online

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

2018   Decolonozing the Arts, Aesthetic Practices of Learning and Unlearning,UdK Berlin

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

2018   artist talk at Red Dot Gallery,Colombo

2017   artist talk at Gertrude Contemporary Art,Melbourne

2017   presentation at Program in Multi-Disciplinary Arts,Faculty of Fine Art,Chiang Mai University

2016   artist talk at Shakti-Colombo Dance platform, Colombo

2015   artist talk at Tanztage,Sophiensaele,Berlin


Teaching | Workshops

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

2022   On listening, moving, resting and being,with FUORIMARGINE - dance & performing arts production                 center of Sardinia,Sa Manifattura, Cagliari

2022   On listening, moving, resting and being, Le Alleanze dei Corpi festival, KinLab Milano

2021/today  undergraduate studies, visiting lecturer, department of Fine Arts, University of Peradeniya

2021   Choreography Camp,organizer/mentor/teacher,Colombo

2018   Choreography Camp, mentor/teacher,Kalpitya

2018   Listening to dance, Eastern University,Batticaloa

2018   Generating Material, workshop for BA students, HZT, Berlin

2018   CORPUS CALLOSUM,curated by Tracy Rose,RAW Material Company, fellowship faculty mentor, Dakar

2018   Decolonizing Arts:Practices of Learning and Unlearning,Studium Generale, UdK Berlin

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



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