Abhilash Mehta Tabla and other Percussions
Abhilash Mehta comes to us with years of professional teaching and performing experience in India and more recently in the United States. He is a highly knowledgeable, creative and resourceful Music Teacher with more than 25 years of experience in developing students’ interest in and appreciating music through teaching theory, history and practical skills. He has developed course plans, and teaching programs for groups and individuals.
Abhilash is a highly accomplished percussion player, well versed in instruments such as the tabla, dholak, and the dhol. He has lead orchestra and choral groups for school programs, community activities, concerts, and festivals. Abhilash has also trained students to participate in National level and State level competitions in India. In addition, more than 12 of his students have passed Tabla Visharad (the highest level of training) exam with excellent results. Abhilash has worked as a Music Director and directed more than 75 Albums. He holds a B.Ed. degree focusing on tabla and was an accomplished Masters Candidate. Since his move to the United States, Abhilash continues to impart his vast expertise to percussion enthusiasts across Massachusetts.
Vijay Srinivasachari Mridangam
Vijay Srinivasachari started learning mridangam at the age of 9 under Shri. Thillaisthanam Suryanarayanan in Chennai, who belongs to the “Rajappa Iyer School” of Mridangam. After moving to the US in 2001 and graduating with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering, he renewed his passion and interest in mridangam and continued advanced training under Shri. Thillaisthanam Suryanarayanan and also from Shri. Rohan Krishnamurthy (Palani Subramaniam Pillai bani).
Shri. Thillaisthanam Suryanarayanan is the founder of “Nandikeshwar Tala Vidyalaya” in Chromepet, Chennai, imparting Mridangam lessons to over a hundred students for more than two decades. Shri. Rohan Krishnamurthy is an internationally acclaimed Mridangam artist/musician, has performed hundreds of concerts internationally both as a distinguished soloist and as a collaborator in diverse music and dance ensembles
Vijay has been accompanying young and upcoming musicians locally in Connecticut and is also one of the Teaching Assistants (TA) in Rohan Rhythm Studio. With blessings from both his gurus, Vijay is keen to share his knowledge, passion and wisdom with young budding artists. Vijay will incorporate both the styles (banis) of playing Mridangam while working with Mridangam enthusiasts at the Beginner and Intermediate level.
Phil Kaplan Guitar (Western and Hindustani Classical)
Phil Kaplan has been composing, performing, recording, and teaching, locally and internationally, since he graduated from the New England Conservatory in 1979. He has many full-length music albums of original material to his credit, as well as scores for film and theater.
While at the Conservatory he was introduced to the musical world of South Asia by master Sitarist and Educator Dr. Peter Row, from whom he took many lessons while pursuing his B.M. at the Conservatory and after graduating.
He is currently under the tutelage of Sr. Puspen Dey of Calcutta, himself a senior disciple of Pt. Buddhadev Dasgupta, and who has guided and encouraged him in his endeavor to translate Hindustani classical music to his first and most beloved instrument, the electric guitar. Phil has, after several years’ worth of trial, error, and experimentation, has arrived at a customization of his instrument which emulates the sarod and the sarangi, his two favorite Indian stringed instruments.
Matthew Zachary Johnson Piano, Voice
Matthew has taught piano, singing, music theory, ear training, and songwriting for nearly two decades. His students have ranged in age from 3 years, through K-12 and college age students, through adult learners including senior citizens. For young children, Johnson uses the Suzuki method which emphasizes hearing and playing coordination first, and music note reading later. For singing, he looks to the traditional Italian "bel canto" ("beautiful singing") method, which cultivates a clear and relaxed, natural voice.
Matthew serves on the faculty of the College of Performing Arts at The New School University, and is the music program director of the Montessori-based T.E.C. Schools, “Think, Explore, Create”. He is the composer of The Boston Tea Party Opera, which premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival, and which Curtainup.com dubbed “opera with a conscience”. Johnson's book "Emotion in Life & Music," about the mystery of what it means for music to be emotional, debuted as Amazon's #1 hot new release in aesthetics and has a 5-star customer rating.
Vandana Rao Hindustani Vocal
Vandana Rao has been a music enthusiast from a very young age and started her music training at the age of 8. She trained in Mumbai for over 8 years in the khayal style of Hindustani music under the tutelage of several gurus. After moving to the US, she renewed her training in music under Smt Sadhana Upadhyay at the LearnQuest Academy of Music in Waltham, Massachusetts, learning various styles of Hindustani music including khayal, and light folk. More recently, she has also started training in dhrupad style of Hindustani music from Pt. Ramakant Gundecha, and also trains under Warren Senders, a vocalist and composer in Indian and Western music.
In 2014 Vandana started the Sur Samvaad School of Music in Westborough where she teaches classical music to both young children and adults alike and currently has over a thirty students. She performs at local events and enjoys composing music in her free time.
Valli Amaravadi Carnatic Vocal
Valli hails from a family of musicians and music lovers. She started her musical journey at a very young age and received formal music training from her mother. Valli also received advanced vocal training from Shri Akella Prabhakara Murthy a student of late Shri Kittamani Bhagathar of Chennai. Currently, Valli continues to receive guidance from accomplished artist Smt. Vidya Subramanian of Chennai, senior student of Padmabhushan late Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman.
Valli receives praise for her voice modulation, sensitive krithi rendition with bhava and clear sahithya with an altogether soulful presentation. She has received senior music certification from Andhra University Music College. She was an All India Radio artist in India and performed in well-known organizations in Andhra Pradesh. Currently, she also performs regularly at various events and has participated in several fundraisers in theBoston area such as for MITHAS, the Sri Lakshmi Temple, and Chinmaya Mission. Valli lives in Westford, MA where she has been teaching for over 15 years. Her students perform regularly and have won prizes in numerous competitions.
Rama Rao Mukkamala Ghazal and Light Classical (Hindustani)
Shri Rama Rao is a career musician and teacher with over 30 years of experience. He specializes in Hindustani Classical vocal, and in Sugam Sangeet or light music comprising of ghazals, geet, and bhajan. Over the course of his career, Rama Rao has offered music lessons to over 150 students in India, and many more in Massachusetts. He is also a specialist harmonium player accompanying many artists in their classical and semi-classical performances.
Rama Rao has a Sangeet Visharada (Vocal Classical) from Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwa Vidyalaya (IKSVV) and is recognized as “Chief Music Consultant” (Head of Music Department) at Raman University, India. He has also been part of the approved panel of teachers from Khairagarh University conducting vocal exams in various cities of India. Rama Rao is recognized as an All India Radio Artist in Bhopal and Raipur, as well as an artist for Doordarshan in Bhopal.
He has given several public performances across India, such as at the Vidhan Sabha in Bhopal, at government organized concerts in Delhi, and in cities like Hyderabad, Bhopal, Calcutta, and Vishakhapatnam. More recently, he has presented several Ghazal and Bhajan Concerts in and around the Boston area.
Hema Iyengar Bharatanatyam
Born to a middle class family in India, Hema Iyengar is passionate about classical dance and feels that dance is an expression of inner feeling. She started learning dance at the age of 4 in Pune, India under the tutelage of various gurus like Radha Moorthy, Suchetha Chapekar and Madurai Muralidharan and has in turn been spreading her art for the last 15 years. She continues to enhance her knowledge even today by learning under various gurus. Her passion for dance continues to be showcased through her teaching and choreographies.
Hema teaches the Vazhuvoor Style of Bharatanatyam which was created by Vazhuvoor Ramiah Pillai. This style is more feminine, emphasizing laasya (dance by Parvathi) over tandavam (dance by lord Shiva). Because of which this style of dance is best suited for performing emotive pieces and dance dramas. In this style, most traditional performances begin with a Thodaya Mangalam in praise of Gnana Sabesa, the reigning deity of the town of Vazhuvoor. In 2006, Hema founded the NrityaAnjali School of Dance and has been giving group and private lessons for youngsters and adults. Classes are held in the metrowest area, Newton and Attleboro. Hema’s students have been performing at various local events such as Vision Aid, IAGB, ISW, NETS, Big Help, NEMA etc.
Moumita Banerjee Kathak
Moumita Banerjee is very passionate about Kathak dance and started learning Kathak dance (in Jaipur Gharana) at the age of 3 under Smt. Susmita Chakroborty in Calcutta. She is fervent about dance and finds joy and freedom in expressing herself creatively through music and movement. She earned her Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) degree from Banaras Hindu University (BHU), one of the largest and prestigious universities in India. She was awarded a Gold Medal for securing first position in the University. She also completed the Prabhakar degree (similar to Bachelors degree in Kathak dance) and Senior Diploma in Kathak with distinction from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad, India. She received her Master of Performing Arts (MPA) degree in Kathak dance (Lucknow Gharana) from Bhatkhande Music Institute Deemed University, Lucknow. During her MPA she developed an expertise in different areas of Kathak dance such as stage performance, proficiency, and Aesthetics. She has learned under legendary gurus like Prof. Kumkum Dhar, Prof. Bina Singh and Prof. Ranjana Srivastava.
She also completed workshop training with Pandit Birju Maharaj, leading exponent of Lucknow Gaharana of Kathak and Ashimbandhu Bhattacharjee. She has been a performer for over 10 years, performing and choreographing in India and in the USA (Florida, Texas and Massachusetts) at various organizations and festivals. With prior teaching experience in India and in Texas, Moumita is glad to share her dance experience with children and adults who love this as much as she does.
Nikita Rao Bollywood Dance
Nikita Rao, a Bollywood Choreographer is the Founder and Artistic Director of Nikita's Bollywood Dance Academy in the New England area. Her passion and desire to open her own dance school began 8 years ago and today it is a well-established Dance School based in Nashua, NH. Over the years she has started satellite classes in Chelmsford, Burlington, North Andover and is launching more branches in other parts of the New England area.
Through her choreography, Nikita shows how diverse Bollywood film dancing is as a dance style and how it is constantly evolving and reinventing itself by crossing cultural boundaries and imbibing other dance forms. Nikita's unique dance style and choreography fuses a diverse repertoire including Indian styles, such as Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Bhangra, and Folk; and, western staples such as Hip-Hop, Contemporary, and Jazz.
Nikita has been very active in the community with student performances at various charity shows and local concerts. Her unique choreographies that fuse modern dance styles with today’ s most popular and vibrant Hindi music have won awards at many dance shows.
Jaikishan Bollywood Fusion
Jaikishan, is a professional dancer and an extremely talented dance choreographer. His dance school Jai Ho Dance, founded 3 years ago, is well known for its versatile styles of dance and his students ranging from ages 8+ have won a number of prizes in various dance competitions in the New England area.
Jaikishan himself has been an avid stage performer from a very young age and his passion for dance drives him to achieve excellence in all dance styles like hip/hop, contemporary, jazz, and Bollywood. In India, Jai has represented his company across various inter corporate dance competitions and he has also had a chance to take part in a dance based reality show.
Pooja Ravi Let’s Nacho Bollywood Dance Class
Pooja Ravi has been an avid dancer from a very young age. She was trained in Bharatanatyam, Bollywood and Hip-Hop, and her zeal to learn new styles has helped bring out her passion for dance.
She has participated in several inter-corporate dance competitions in India. Here in New England, she has been part of winning dance teams in SwaRaag, and NEMA (NewEngland Malyalee Association) events and more recently she was part of the team that won first prize at the 2017 South Asian Showdown, a national level dance competition.
FITNESS AND WELLNESS
Ruchi Shandilya Zumba
Ruchi has been a Zumba enthusiast since 2008. Over the years, as Zumba started introducing Bollywood music into their routines, she realized that she really enjoyed hearing the familiar music and felt energized by it. So, in May 2015, she decided to become a Zumba instructor. She completed the training, received her license, and started her own Zumba classes but with a Bollywood twist. She has been teaching in her private studio as well as at a local dance studio and a local gym.
Her classes are fun and energetic; the steps are easy to follow; and the music includes a blend of traditional Zumba music as well as current Bollywood songs.
Sunita Ramnani Bollywood Aerobics
Sunita is a Certified Dance Fitness Instructor with the AFAA (Aerobic and Fitness Association of America), an accomplished Dancer as well as a Choreographer. Dance has been her passion from childhood. It is something that has always given her complete freedom to express all her emotions. It lets her dream with her feet! It has helped to bring out her confidence while also giving her immense happiness and satisfaction.
Sunita feels that “The joy of finding and losing yourself with dance is so much fun!!!"
Shubhada Wavikar Yoga
Shubhada is a yoga instructor registered with the Yoga Alliance. She received her 200 hour and 300 hour teacher training at The Yoga Studio in Millis, MA. She is also a certified Kidding Around Yoga (KAY) Teacher (for kids’ yoga). She has twelve continuing education hours in senior yoga. She has attended several classes at The Yoga Institute in Mumbai, India. Shubhada teaches at several places in the area. The style of yoga she teaches is gentle Hatha yoga. She has a deep appreciation for the mind, body and breath connection of yoga.
Sue Funk Art/ Painting
A New Jersey native, Sue Funk has lived in Massachusetts for over 20 years. Sue both produces art and also teaches it. A Massachusetts Certified Teacher, Sue has taught Drawing, Cartooning and creatively designed classes at various locations including the Bedford Council on Aging and Shrewsbury Montessori.
Sue feels strongly that it is her role as a teacher to enable her students to chart their angst/joy/opinions through their art experiences. How better to do this than to teach them how to accurately illustrate their thoughts and emotions - to alleviate, where possible, the frustration of not being able to realistically portray what they want to by giving them the proper instruction and tools to do so? By reinforcing the basic elements of design, observation skills, etc., so that each student can observe/create/invent or reinvent and honor each blank canvas with complete images that satisfy each artist as an individual. She is a proud member of the Cambridge Art Association, Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts and National Association of Women Artists, Inc.
Khyati Dalal Mehndi/ Henna
Khyati has had a passsion for art and Mehndi from an early age. She learned Mehndi/Henna professionally from basic through advanced bridal mehndi level from a renowned teacher in Mumbai, India for several years. Khyati has over 10 years of personalized and professional experience in applying mehndi/henna at various occasions - to brides, wedding parties, special occasions like Karva Chauth, sweet sixteen parties. She enjoys traditional and modern styles of mehndi. Her designs are innovative, intricate and she pays attention to detail.
Paresh Motiwala Speech and Debate Club
Paresh Motiwala and his wife, Bhavana run Circles of Growth, an organization that teaches children the art and science of public speaking, debating, group discussions, event planning, leadership, and some Indian languages. He has taught over 300 students over the last 5 years. He runs his classes in Sharon, Providence, Burlington and Littleton/Acton area. Paresh has worked with children and youth around the globe.
For the last two decades, Paresh has spent time in speaking engagements at over a hundred events and is a very well respected speaker, especially in Technical world. He has also presented a three hour solo session on Indian Architecture at Harvard University. Paresh has also been the official Beauty Pageant speech coach for the Miss and Mrs. India pageants in New England.
Paresh is a well-known and respected member of the New England area for over 20 years. He has been Principal, Director, and teacher at Shishubharati (a school of languages and culture of India) for over ten years. Paresh has volunteered at countless cultural and non-profit organizations including IMANE, Harvard's Community Ethics Community, and Hindu Facilitator/Child Mentor for YouthLeadOnline.org and Sharon Pluralism Network. He has been a diversity chair, playwright, photographer and an award winning singer.