Jaya Mani’s dance training began with a private tutor when she was eight years old. At thirteen years of age, she had her first formal performance, known as Arangetram. She then attended the Kuchipudi Arts Academy in Madas, India, and she also trained in the Bharatha Natyam style. She then opened a school where she trained students in Bharatha Natyam. After moving to the United States, she began to teach Bharatha Natyam in Pittsburgh and Youngstown, and has been conducting classes in Bharata Natyam for more than 30 years at the S.V. Temple in Pittsburgh. More than 90 students have graduated from her dance program.
Jaya has performed in a number of stage presentations, mostly solos, as well as with professional dance groups throughout India and in many countries around the world, including the US, Canada, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Brazil. In connection with her professional stage shows, she has choreographed a number of individual items and dance dramas. With her husband, Dr. S.B. Mani, she has given lecture/demonstrations for many professional organizations, schools, universities and non-profit organizations in the US.
In recognition of her contribution to teaching and spreading the rich cultural heritage of India through dance, in 1994 she was given the title, Pride of India by Mayor Murphy of Pittsburgh, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh India Forum. In 2010, she also received an award from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County and the Srinivasa Prasad International Foundation for Performing Arts, presented in recognition of her commitment and service in promoting the South Asian Performing Arts among North American Youth. Jaya has been instrumental in creating the Dance in India Program for the Department of Dance.