Instructors

DANCE – Bharatanatyam

Meenakshy Bhaskar

The daughter of dance doyens the Bhaskars, Meenakshy Bhaskar studied dance at University of Wisconsin, USA. Upon returning to Singapore, she performed and held the lead roles in several Bhaskar’s Arts Academy productions. She has performed for dignitaries from all over the world, including Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth. In 1996, Meenakshy Bhaskar was presented the Singapore Young Artiste Award for her contributions and dedication to the Arts in Singapore.

Like her mother, Meenakshy is a gifted choreographer. Because of her diverse background in dance, her creations are uniquely rooted in Bharatanatyam but subtly influenced by her vast training. Her first full-length work in Singapore was Vinayaka (2003), where her flair for choreography shone through. Her other exemplary works include Yatra (2005) where social issues like domestic violence were brought to centrestage; Yatra II (2007), an introspective work on her own journey; and Yatra III (2010) where she collaborated and performed with Spanish guitarist Roberto Corrias. Meenakshy also reimagined two of her mother’s classics – Manohra (2009) and the Chinese folktale Butterfly Lovers (2021).

Meenakshy Bhaskar is currently Artistic Director of Bhaskar’s Arts Academy (Singapore) and Advisor of Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society.

 

 

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. Her subsequent choreographies such as Shashti (2017) and Kutrala Kuravanji (2019) continue to impress.

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 ‘Natya Kala Bhushana’ and given the Postgraduate Certificate of Honours by Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society.

Ambujah is currently the Principal of 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.

Gayathiri Kanthan 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.

Shivashni Kummar

Shivashni began her dance training with Guru Santha Bhaskar at age four and immediately impressed with her maturity and abhinaya skills. She was soon chosen to play the lead role of Muruga in the Aum Muruga series. In 2009, she also played the titular role in Manohra. Upon completing her Arangetram in 2001 she staged her solo production Prachodana in 2012. An active student and alumni dancer in NUS Centre for the Arts, Shivashni presented a duet performance Athmeeya Bhava in 2007.

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.

 

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.

DANCE – Odissi

Indu Vijay

Indu has received more than 15 years of training at the Orissa Dance Academy, India, a leading dance school headed by Padmashri Guru Aruna Mohanty. Her teachers include Shri Ramesh Chandra Jena and Smt Madhusmita Mohanty. She has also attended workshops with Padmavibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Smt Sanjukta Panigrahi and Guru Ratikant Mohapatro. Indu founded the Taal School of Odissi in 2015, and joined the Nrityalaya faculty in 2019.

MUSIC – Carnatic

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.

Nelluvai Ragesh

Ragesh is the latest addition to the musical ensemble at Nrityalaya. He started his artistic journey under the tutelage of his father Raju Nelluvai. He subsequently continued his training under Sanoj Guruvayur, and enrolled in Kalamandalam Deemed University, where he graduated with M.A. Mridangam. He furthered his training under Trissur K Jayakrishnan and Cherthala S Dinesh, both renowned Mridangam artistes. Ragesh has multiple notable performances under his belt such as the Chembai Music Festival. Recognised as a graded artiste at All India Radio, Ragesh has provided mridangam accompaniment for numerous carnatic concerts, dance programmes and Sampradaya bhajans across India. He also has a knack for composing melodious devotional songs, varnams and thillanans.

Ragesh joined Nrityalaya’s teaching faculty in 2019 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.