Born on 20 December 1933 in Mumbai, Shri Sunil Kothari qualified as a Chartered Accountant before turning to the study of Indian dance. His researches in Bhagavata Mela Natak, Kuchipudi and Kuravanji earned for him a Ph.D. from the M.S. University, Vadodara in 1977. For his researches in the dance sculptures of medieval temples of North Gujarat, He was awarded a D. Litt. by Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta in 1986. He also took practical training in Bharatanatyam under Shri T. Kuppaiah Pillai and Shri Kalyanasundaram Pillai, and in Kathak under Shri Badriprasad. Studying various dance forms and interacting with eminent gurus and artists,
Shri Kothari has served the cause of dance through his research works and writings. He has authored more than 20 books including Sattriya Dances of Assam, New Directions in Indian Dance, and also on Bharatanatayam, Odissi, Chhau, Kathak, Kuchipudi, and Photo Biographies of Uday Shankar and Rulcmini Devi Arundale. He was a dance critic of the Times of India group of publications for 40 years. Shri Kothari has held the Uday Shankar Chair in Rabindra Bharati University, and has taught in the Dance Department of New York University as a Fulbright Professor. He has served as a member of the International Dance Council of Unesco and World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific. He is also a recipient of the Emeritus Fellowship of the Department of Culture, Government of India.
Shri Sunil Kothari has received numerous titles and awards including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1995); the Gaurav Puraskar conferred by the Gujarat Sangeet Natak Akademi (2000); the Padma Shri bestowed by the Government of India (2001); and the Life Time Achievement Award of the Dance Critics Association, New York, USA (2011). Shri Sunil Kothari is elected Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi for his contribution to Indian dance as a scholar.