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Erasing Borders 2009: Festival of Indian Dance
August 15th, 2009 – Children’s Program “Rhythmic Stories
Artist Bios
Kavita Bafana (Teacher, Children’s Program “Rhythmic Stories”)
Partner, Little Ustaads
Kavita Bafana (Teacher, Children’s Program “Rhythmic Stories”)
Born and raised in New York, Kavita grew up in an environment which supported classical Indian Arts. Having the opportunity to bounce back and forth between the US and India, Kavita developed a strong foundation and love for Indian dance and music. Kavita started her Kathak training at the age of 6 and has performed at many venues such as, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden and Nehru Center in Mumbai.
Though her first passion is Kathak, having twin boys she quickly realized her classical teaching has to go beyond just dance. Hence, the idea of Litte Ustaads was born. Besides her involvement with the arts she is a full-time referee for her 2 1/2 year old twin boys. Kavita has her BA from Columbia University and MA from Northwestern University.
Radha Virupaksha (Kuchipudi)
Radha Virupaksha (Kuchipudi)
Radha Virupaksha is an accomplished dancer in the Kuchipudi style. Kuchipudi is a classical dance form that originated as a dance theater from Andhran Pradesh in India. Kuchipudi is known for its fluid movements and theatrical aspect. Tarangam is unique to the repertoire of Kuchipudi, where the dancer dances on the edges of a brass plate, and creating rhythms by placing the feet upon the raised edges of the plate.
Radha trained under Vempati Kodanda Rama Shastri and Pasumarthi Murali Krishna Sharma and Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam. She has a Masters degree in Kuchipudi Dance from Potti Sree Ramulu Telugu University, Hyderabad, India. She has performed at several venues in India to a diverse audience, and was selected as best dancer by the All India Dance Academy (1993 and 1994). She has conducted dance workshops for school groups in India. She recently moved to New Jersey from India and hopes to share her art with audiences and students here.
Sangita Rai (Kathak)
Sangita Rai (Kathak)
Sangita is a dancer from the Jaipur school of Kathak. Kathak is a dance form that originates from northern India. It exemplifies the confluence of the Hindu and Islamic aesthetic. It is known for its vibrant rhythms and pirouettes and its subtle beauty, flow and grace.
The daughter of the illustrious Sarod maestro Pt. Vasant Rai, Sangita was born in New York City into a family of Indian classical musicians. She was initiated into Kathak at an early age, and her initial training was from Ina Devi. She furthered her training under the strict tutelage of Kathak maestroes Pt. Harish Gangani and Pt. Jagdish Gangani. Sangita spent seven years under the watchful eyes of the Gangani Kathak family.
She holds a Masters in Performing Arts, and was awarded the distinction of two Gold medals from the M.S University in Baroda, India. Sangita has participated in various prestigious events in India and in the US, giving both solo as well as group performances. Her strong sense of rhythm and natural grace is seen in her Kathak performance.
Sonali Skandan (Bharatanatyam)
Sonali Skandan (Bharatanatyam)
Photo by Nicole Fournier
For Sonali, Bharatanatyam is more than a dance form; it is a means of expression and joy. Combining powerful rhythmically intense footwork, graceful and lyrical postures, and dramatic story-telling, Bharatanatyam is a confluence of many artistic genres from dance to theatre to music and literature. Sonali is a devoted and passionate disciple of Bharatanatyam and is under the guidance of the renowned dancer and teacher, Professor CV Chandrasekhar of Chennai, India.
A core component of Sonali's work involves education. Sonali holds a Masters degree in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and has been instrumental in starting up an arts education high school, Heritage School, in Manhattan. She uses her experience in teaching to develop engaging and enriching lecture demonstrations and workshops for professional dancers, students and teachers. She has taught at venues such as the Rubin Museum of Art, Brooklyn Friends School, the Door NYC, South Asian Youth Action youth groups as well as New York City public schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn. She also presented a workshop entitled "Teaching South Asia through Indian Classical Dance" at the Teachers College Conference for Asian-American Teachers. Sonali is a Teaching Artist for Young Audiences New York and presents performances and dance residencies throughout the NYC area. Sonali is teaching a course entitled the Basics of Bharatanatyam at New York University's Coles Center.

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