Instructors

DANCE – Bharatanatyam

Santha Bhaskar is a graduate of the Chempakassary Arya Kala Nilayam in Kerala and a student of the late Ramunni Panicker, Guru Kunchu Kurup and Kutralam Ganesan Pillai. Under these highly-regarded exponents, she mastered Mohini Attam, Bharatanatyam and Kathakali. She also holds a diploma in Karnatic Music from the Tamil Nadu Government.

Over the years, she also studied Chinese and Malay Dance in Singapore, Thai Dance and Music at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and Odissi at the Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata. In addition, she has had training in Theatre Studies.

Joining her husband the late Mr KP Bhaskar in Singapore in 1956, she taught and choreographed at Bhaskar’s Academy of Dance, which is now known as Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society. In 1977, she started teaching undergraduates at the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Musical Activities (now known as Centre for the Arts). Besides Singapore, she also taught students in Malaysia, commuting fortnightly to places as far away as Lumut, Setiawan and Penang. Classes under her continue to flourish and more than 100 students have performed their Arangetrams under her tutelage, each with a “Maargam” specially designed for him or her.

Read more about Santha Bhaskar

She has also collaborated with various other Arts organisations including Practice Performing Arts School, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and La-Salle College of the Arts, and has numerous articles on Dance to her name either presented at seminars or published in performing arts magazines.

Santha’s contributions to the development of Indian Classical Dance in Singapore and Malaysia have not gone unrecognized. In addition to the “Natya Kalanidhi” award by the great poet Suddhananda Bharathiyar in 1957, “Kala Rani” award by Indian Film Arts Society and “Kala Ratnam” award by the Singapore Fine Arts Society, she was awarded the prestigious Cultural Medallion by the Singapore government in 1990.

Presently, she teaches Bharatanatyam at Nrityalaya and at the Centre for the Arts (National University of Singapore).

Ambujah Thirunavukarasu

Ambujah Thiru was introduced to the sacred art of Bharatanatyam by Kavitha Daran, a student of Mr & Mrs Bhaskar. She continued her journey with Santha Bhaskar at Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society and presented her Arangetram in 1993 and joined the teaching faculty soon after. Her training continued and culminated in her solo shows Nayika (2000) and Maatha (2002).

As a choreographer, Ambujah staged her first major choreographic production Thirukutrala Kuravanji in 2008. She also restaged Santha Bhaskar’s Ramayana in 2012. With Bhairavi in 2014, Ambujah reached new heights as a choreographer.

Read more about Ambujah Thirunavukarasu

Ambujah demands the same clarity she renders to her own performances from the Bharatanatyam students she teaches at Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society. Thus far she has conducted 12 Arangetrams.

For her contributions to the field of dance, Ambujah has been conferred the title of ‘Nritya Kala Nipuna’ and given the Postgraduate Certificate of Honours by Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society.

Neewin Hershall

Neewin Hershall began his training in Bharatanatyam in Kerala. He then moved to Chennai to study at the world-renowned dance institution Kalakshetra. After graduating from Kalakshetra, he dedicated his life to dance. His solo performance Rudram (2010) is still much talked about till today.

He spent three years training students in Bharatanatyam and Yoga at the much-acclaimed Nrityagram in Bangalore. As a faculty member in Nrityalaya since 2008, Neewin has conducted two Arangetrams and staged Abhyas (2013), a students’ programme in memory of the late Mr KP Bhaskar.

Neewin is currently a Bharatanatyam and Yoga instructor at Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society.

Dhana Bharathi Mokhanasundaram

Bharathi’s love affair with dance started with her first dance class at the age of four. In 2003, she presented her Bharatanatyam Arangetram under the tutelage of Santha Bhaskar. She then went on to conceptualise and dance in an exploratory production, Nirvrithi (2008), which incorporated contemporary dance with Bharatanatyam.

Bharathi currently kindles and nurtures the same passion for the art in other aspiring dancers through teaching at Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society.

Gayathiri Kandan Prakash

One of Nrityalaya’s second generation dancers, Gayathri started learning dance from her mother, who was a student of Santha Bhaskar. She began her formal training under Santha Bhaskar at age four. She presented her Arangetram in 1997 and went on to do her solo show Natya Anjali in 2000. Although not actively performing currently, Gayathri contributes by teaching and passing on the knowledge to budding young talents of Nrityalaya.

Hemalatha Sathasivam

Hema completed her Arangetram in 2012 under the guidance of Ambujah Thiru. Her love for children and teaching motivated her to join Nrityalaya’s teaching faculty. She currently teaches at Nrityalaya and at our off-site venue at Sree Narayana Mission. Her Bharatanatyam training continues.

Arulushamaheswary Anbalagan

Usha started learning dance at the age of five. In 2012, she presented her Arangetram under the guidance of Ambujah Thiru. Her passion for teaching led her to join the faculty at Nrityalaya after that. Usha still continues her training and is currently a student of Bharatanatyam, Nattuvangam and Karnatic vocal.

Malini Bhaskar

Malini is trained in Bharatanatyam, ballet, contemporary, hiphop and several other dance styles. The granddaughter of dance doyens the Bhaskars, Malini completed her Bharatanatyam Arangetram in 2010. Soon after, she joined the teaching faculty at Nrityalaya. She aspires to one day be a professional dancer and hopes to eventually continue the work of her grandparents in the arts scene.

Shruthilaya Ramachandran

The latest addition to Nrityalaya’s teaching faculty, Shruthi presented her Arangetram in 2012 under the tutelage of Ambujah Thiru. She still continues her training in Bharatanatyam and Karnatic vocal.

 

 

Priyadarshini Nagarajah

Priyadarshini completed her diploma in Bharatanatyam in 2014 under the guidance of Mrs Ambujah Thiru. Her passion for the art form has led her to join the teaching faculty to share the love of dance with her students. She continues to learn and perform dance.

 

DANCE – Kathak

Pallavi Sharma

A graduate of Kathak Kendra in Delhi, Pallavi completed her Kathak diploma and post-diploma under the guidance of Bharti Gupta and Urmila Nagar. She went on to do her Visharad in Hindustani vocal at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, New Delhi under the tutelage of Sandeep Shrivastava and Sharda Prasana Acharya. Her solo show Aakanksha (2011) drew much attention locally.

Pallavi has been teaching in India since she graduated and eventually joined Nrityalaya in 2010. She currently teaches Kathak and Hindustani vocal.

DANCE – Kathakali

Kalamandalam Biju

Biju started learning Kathakali at the age of eight and got his degree in Kathakali “Vesham” from Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University. He has been involved in Kathakali performances all over India with Kalamandalam Kathakali Troupe and other troupes. He underwent an intensive training in Therukkoothu with Sri Sambandan Purisai Kannappa in 2007.

He has choreographed Kathakali pieces such as Thadaka Vadham in Tamil, Cherita Singapura in Malay, Lady Spiders in Mandarin and the Shakespearean story King Lear in Malayalam. He has written and published a new Kathakali story, Satyavathiparinayam (2008) under the pen-name Vanamali. Based on the Mahabharatham, the story been performed on different stages since then.

Read more about Kalamandalam Biju

For his dedication to the art, he has received Vellodi Medal (1984) and Vallathol scholarship (1989) from Kalamandalam as well as “Natyakalanipuna” award from Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society (2005).

Currently he teaches Kathakali and Therukkoothu at Nrityalaya.

MUSIC – Karnatic

GP Ampili

GP Ampili started her music journey at the age of five under the tutelage of her mother. She continued her journey under Pankajam, Pattam Saraswathi and her mother’s guru, Haripad Gopinath. Ampili won many prizes during her school and college days and grew to become a very confident singer. She furthered her quest in music by completing her B.A. and M.A. in music in Kerala University (Thiruvanathapuram) and her M.Phil in music in Madurai Kamaraj University (Tamil Nadu). Her gurus in University were Dr Omana Kutty, Dr Sujatha, Janaki Ammal, Dr Latha Varma and Cherthala R. Rangantha Sharma.

She started her teaching career in Nrityalaya in 2003, and successfully conducted our first vocal arangetram in 2006. Her students have participated and won medals at several competitions including the National Arts Council’s National Indian Music Competitions. In 2014, Ampili released her first solo album Poonkuyil.

Arasakumari Nagaradjane

Arasakumari’s interest in singing started early and she decided to pursue it as a full time career. She did her B.A. in performing arts at the Bharathiar Palkalai Koodam in Pondicherry University and her M.A. and M.Phil in music at Madras University.

She has been a vocal teacher at Nrityalaya since 2005 and has conducted four vocal arangetrams to date (two in 2009 and two in 2010). Students trained under her have participated in several competitions, the most prestigious of which was the National Arts Council’s National Indian Music Competitions, where one of her students was awarded first place in 2011.

TVK Sajith

Sajith hails from an artistic family in Kerala and started his music education at the age of eight under the tutelage of N.K Gangadharan, Malabar Sukumaran Bhagavathar, R. Thyagarajan and B. Sasikumar. From childhood Sajith exhibited his musical talent and bagged several prizes in various youth festivals. He was also conferred the title of “Ganabhushan” by the Palakkad Chembai Memorial Government Music College and “Ganapraveena” (First Rank) by Swathi Thirunal Music College, Thiruvananthapuram. Sajith went on to complete his M.A. in music at R.L.V College, Thirupunithura.

He has served as a music instructor in several institutions, including the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy. Sajith joined Nrityalaya in 2007 and has been teaching violin and vocal since then. He is also teaching vocal at our off-site venues at Sree Narayana Mission and Mata Amritanandamayi Devi Centre.

Ghanavenothan Retnam

Son of pioneer local musician R. Retnam, Ghanavenothan was tutored by Pandit M. Ramalingam who nurtured his passion for playing the flute. He has been part of Nrityalaya’s teaching faculty for more than 20 years during which time he conducted three flute Arangetrams.

Read more about Ghanavenothan Retnam

Ghanavenothan also writes music for orchestras and ballets for arts festivals locally and abroad. His recordings, based on classical, devotional and East-West fusion, have been heard on the National Geographic, Animal Planet and the Discovery Travel channels, His stirring and emotive performances for dignitaries and royalty led him to record for a Walt Disney feature film.

Beyond his artistic work, Ghanavenothan also serves on several of the National Arts Council (NAC) Advisory panels. He also plays an advisory role to the People Association (PA) and the National Youth Council (NYC). An avid reviewer and columnist in arts magazines, he also serves in various programming panels in NAC, PA and NYC.

 

For his outstanding contributions to the field of arts, Ghanavenothan was the first local Indian artiste to be awarded the prestigious “Young Artiste Award” and bestowed the titles “Sangitha Kala Nipuna” and “Singai Venugana Visharada”. He was also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian Medallion conferred by the world peace and harmony organisation in New York, USA.

TK Arunkumar

Arun started learning Karnatic vocal at age 10 and developed an interest for playing the veena at age 15. This culminated in his graduation where he was conferred the title “Ganabhushan” for veena and a diploma in vocal from the Chembai Government Music College in Kerala. He continued performing and giving veena and vocal training to students in India.

He joined Nrityalaya in 2010 and has been teaching veena, vocal and harmonium since then.

S HariKrishnan

Harikrishnan started learning Mridangam at the age of 12 under Alappuzha Sri Krishnakumar and Kaithavana Sri Madhavadas. He furthered his passion at the prestigious Kerala Kalamandalam where he passed with first class. Upon graduation he was invited to train students at his alma mater and did so for four years. He also worked as a Mridangam tutor in the Middle East and had the privilege of participating in cultural programmes held in Bahrain, Switzerland and Malta.

He joined Nrityalaya’s teaching faculty in 2010 and at present trains students in Mridangam and other percussion instruments.

MUSIC – Hindustani

Pallavi

A graduate of Kathak Kendra in Delhi, Pallavi completed her Kathak diploma and post-diploma under the guidance of Bharti Gupta and Urmila Nagar. She went on to do her Visharad in Hindustani vocal at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, New Delhi under the tutelage of Sandeep Shrivastava and Sharda Prasana Acharya. Her solo show Aakanksha (2011) drew much attention locally.

Pallavi has been teaching in India since she graduated and eventually joined Nrityalaya in 2010. She currently teaches Kathak and Hindustani vocal.

YOGA – Hatha Yoga, Pranayama

Neewin Hershall

Neewin Hershall trained in yoga at the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, India which culminated in the Yoga Siromani (Teacher of Yoga) certificate in 2008. He spent three years training students in Bharatanatyam and Yoga at the much-acclaimed Nrityagram in Bangalore.

A faculty member in Nrityalaya since 2008, Neewin is currently teaching Bharatanatyam and Yoga.

THEATRE – Therukkoothu

Kalamandalam Biju

Biju started learning Kathakali at the age of eight and got his degree in Kathakali “Vesham” from Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University. He has been involved in Kathakali performances all over India with Kalamandalam Kathakali Troupe and other troupes. He underwent an intensive training in Therukkoothu with Sri Sambandan Purisai Kannappa in 2007.

He has choreographed Kathakali pieces such as Thadaka Vadham in Tamil, Cherita Singapura in Malay, Lady Spiders in Mandarin and the Shakespearean story King Lear in Malayalam. He has written and published a new Kathakali story, Satyavathiparinayam (2008) under the pen-name Vanamali. Based on the Mahabharatham, the story been performed on different stages since then.

Read more about Kalamandalam Biju

For his dedication to the art, he has received Vellodi Medal (1984) and Vallathol scholarship (1989) from Kalamandalam as well as “Natyakalanipuna” award from Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society (2005).

Currently he teaches Kathakali and Therukkoothu at Nrityalaya.