New England-based tabla artist Ajit Acharya began his training under the tutelage of Sri Sheshagiri Rao of Bangalore, India. He also studied extensively with Dr. Rajan Sachdeva, one of the most respected and prolific Indian music teachers in the midwest. His tabla apprenticeship continues today under the guidance of Pandit Samar Saha of the Benares gharana (or style) of tabla.
Ajit has performed all over the country as a soloist and accompanist with various genres including fusion, jazz and experimental music. As a passionate educator and proponent of Indian classical music, Ajit has given lecture-demonstrations and workshops at multiple colleges and universities. He continues to teach dedicated students of all ages throughout New England, the midwest and the west coast.
A dance enthusiast with 20 years of training in various dance styles such as Indian classical - Bharatanatyam, Indian folk and Bollywood, Archana discovered BollyX in 2017 and fell in love with how it seamlessly blends Bollywood dance and group fitness. She earned a Masters in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010 and is passionate about dance and culture. With the help of BollyX, she hopes to make fitness inclusive and fun for all.
Deepthi was born and brought up in India and has been an art enthusiast from a very young age. She started drawing and painting at the age of 4 and ever since it has been a part of her everyday life. Throughout her school years, she participated in and won several state level and national level competitions in India for drawing and painting. Over the years, Deepthi has worked in many mediums like charcoal, graphite, pastels, watercolor, acrylics, and oils. For last one year, she has developed an expertise in finger painting i.e. creating paintings with oils using only fingers and no brushes.
Deepthi has been teaching both kids and adults Art in various mediums for the last 5 years. She has showcased her paintings at many local venues. For almost a year, her paintings were on display at the Magic Fingers store in downtown Westborough. She has taken in local art festivals such as the Dean Park Artfest in Shrewsbury, MA in 2018 where she won Second place as well as the People’s Choice award for her paintings. This year (2019) she will be exhibiting her finger paintings at the Shrewsbury public library for the month of April.
Gaurish Chandrashekhar is a student of Sri. K. Kalyanakrishnan, from the Tanjore Upendran school of mridangam. He had the opportunity to advance his mridangam skills under the able guidance of late Sri. Trichy Raghava Iyer, of the Bharathiya School of Music and Arts - Mumbai, India, and Kalaimamani Sri.Tiruvavur Bhaktavatsalam. He has over two decades of concert playing experience and has accompanied many leading visiting and local artists.
He has conducted lecture demonstrations at various music schools in the Boston area including the Berklee School of Music. He regularly provides percussion support for various Indian classical dance ensembles and arangetrams in the New England region. Gaurish has been teaching students, this fine art of percussion for over 15 years. His students have won awards for mridangam at the Cleveland Aradhana and CMANA competitions.
He plays other percussion instruments such as the dholak, congos, kanjira, morsing. He has collaborated and performed with various Jazz and Bluegrass artists in the Boston area. In 2009, he recorded mridangam and kanjira for the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Classical Companion web project to encourage young composers. In 2014, he was awarded a grant through Massachusetts Cultural Councils' - 'Keepers of Tradition' program as a Master artist.
Grace Soonjoo Moon
Grace Soonjoo Moon is a pianist and composer who enjoys sharing her love through music. She has been granted the Adrian Tinsley Program fund for her piano composition into which she intergrated some elements of traditional Korean music and Western classical music and was awarded the Frieda Rand Music Endowment fund for her performance. She studied at Longy School of Music where she received the Longy School of Merit scholarship in classical piano performance studies and at Bridgewater State University, where she was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in performance studies.
Originating from her love of harmony through music she founded a children's choir and ensemble and the choir won the first prize at the 1st Intercultural Children’s Choir Competition with her composition. She also directed an Intercultural Music Festival for Peace Concert. As a pianist and as a member of a piano trio she has performed at many places. She is a musician who tries to connect with the audience through her music.
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 a mix of Bharatanatyam style : Vazhavoor, KalaShetra and Tanjore. 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 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, Sudbury and North Attleboro. Hema’s students have been performing and competing at various local events such as Vision Aid, IAGB, ISW, NETS, Big Help, NEMA ,Swaraag etc.
Jai Kishan 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.
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.
Call it a hobby or a passion, Yoga has been Monisha’s steadfast companion since her teen years. She began practicing Yoga about 15 years ago, and has never looked back. Monisha has practiced various styles of yoga over the years, including Bikram, Hot, Power, and Vinyasa. She recently completed 200 hours of Wild Wisdom Vinyasa Yoga training, and is in the process of getting her teacher certification.
Monisha strongly believes that yoga is a way of life, and she a lifelong student of the practice. The flexibility, balance, and strong core that can be gained from yoga can complement any fitness regime. She would like to share her practice with her students so that someday they may enjoy their own “AHA” moments when they are able to stretch a little longer, hold a position more, sit up taller or simply be able to connect with their breathing more!
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.
Nivetha is a versatile dancer and has been dancing for over 10 years. She began formal training at the age of 5 learning Bharatanatyam dance. Dancing to her is life and is the best form of exercise when combined with great music. Her teaching philosophy involves having a class filled with happiness, energy, motivation and involvement because she believes dancing is one of the greatest stressbusters. In her classes, Nivetha makes a connection with each student and maintains a highly motivated and fun class making sure students enjoy the sessions and fall in love with dance. As an instructor, she also includes warm up and cool down elements into her routine to ensure flexibility.
Nivetha has been actively involved in and has performed at various cultural programs in different styles of dance - Bollywood free style, Bhangra, HipHop. She has conducted dance workshops and classes for adults and kids for over 5 years.
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.
Parijata Jain Henna and Art
Parijata is an artist, a textile and fashion designer. Born in Bhopal India, “the city of lakes and culture”, Worcester based artist Parijata Jain’s creative concepts are continually influenced by her penchant for nature and Indian culture. With training and degrees in several art disciplines, including fine arts, fashion, textile and industrial design, she brings a diverse set of skills, and a passion for creating, that keeps her working across many fields.
Whether she’s painting a commissioned canvas for a corporate interior design project, working on a textile piece for a fashion client, or illustrating one of her gorgeous henna designs at a community event, Parijata is an artist whose work you will want to follow. A passionate, inspiring, creative artist and designer, Pari enjoys sharing her craft with the next generation of budding artists and is every enthusiastic to engage with the community on various artistic platforms. Visit her art and henna gallery here.
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.
Priya is a dancer and choreographer practicing and performing for over 10 years on various platforms in India, Virginia and the New England area. She has trained in Indian classical dance, Bharatanatyam for 7 years and in Kathak as well as learnt jazz dance and been on local performing troupes. She has been a Bollywood Cardio instructor and recently started her own dance venture ‘Bolly Beatzz’. It highlights and fuses various dance genres from around the world while teaching modern choreographies that motivate aspiring dancers to pursue their own passion. Priya has received accolades and recognition for her dance style and bring a fresh perspective to Bollywood Dance.
Shazia Rizvi Baking & After-School Enrichment
Shazia is an inspiring sugar artist and designer, launching 'Art of Caking' to bring a “WOW” element to events with her centerpieces! A school teacher by profession, Shazia brings her teaching expertise to plan, design and teach hands-on classes to caking enthusiasts and also hosts parties to bring sweetness to every celebration. The endless possibilities of creating edible masterpieces motivate her daily and constantly challenges her skills and imagination. Every sugar piece is a work of art and students are encouraged to apply skills and techniques learned in class to create unique masterpieces of their own.
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.
Sujeet P. Flute (Hindustani)
Sujeet received his initial musical training in Bansuri (Indian flute) and Tabla from distinguished musician and guru, Late Pandit Malharrao Kulkarni in Mumbai. After moving to the United States, he continued his musical education under Shri Pritam Bhattacharjee, disciple of Pandit Jasraj, in Atlanta. While in India, he performed and won awards for his musical performances in several programs and competitions including silver medal at Maharashtra state level music competition in Sangli, 1997. Since moving to the Boston area, Sujeet has performed with several artists and musicians in local events
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.