Teachers

JAYA KARAN

Jaya is founder of Studio J and co-founder of Sapphire Dance. With a background in Bollywood and Bharatanatyam, Jaya has been managing, coordinating, choreographing, teaching, dancing, and performing for well over a decade. Jaya is also a physiotherapist and passionate about the impact dance can have upon mental, physical and social wellbeing. Studio J came from Jaya’s desire to provide a supportive community, where specialised art forms could flourish and engage a wider audience, as well as bringing more diversity and alternatives to the mainstream dance arena. Jaya is largely responsible for managing Studio J, however you can also find her teaching a fusion of her two favourite dance styles – BollyNatyam!

RAINA PETERSON

Raina is one of Australia’s very few practitioners of Mohiniyattam, classical Indian dance of Kerala. She is passionate about promoting this relatively rare dance form and hopes to see it flourish on the global stage. Raina is also trained in Kerala’s classical dance-drama, Kathakali. In addition to her classical work, Raina also performs Belly dance and Bollywood. Raina was in the original cast of Hot Brown Honey Burlesque, and is one-third of feminist cabaret troupe the Ladies of Colour Agency, which toured sell-out productions across Australia. She is Artistic Director of Karma Dance, whose latest experimental classical Indian dance production ‘In Plain Sanskrit’ has received critical acclaim in Melbourne and Auckland. Raina’s appearances as a performer, choreographer, director, and writer include the Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne and Adelaide Fringe Festivals, Woodford Folk Festival, and Melaka Arts & Performance Festival (Malaysia).

GOVIND PILLAI

Govind is one of a few Australian male practitioners of Bharatanatyam. With an international track-record of sell-out productions and festival appearances, he has choreographed, directed and performed at venues and events including the Princess Theatre (Melbourne), Bangarra Theatre (Sydney), the Victorian College of the Arts (Melbourne), Federation Square (Melbourne), Woodford Folk Festival (Queensland), Melbourne Fringe Festival and the Melaka Art & Performance Festival (Malaysia).

Govind is a performer and dance-maker with a practice in performance, choreography, direction and has set up one of Melbourne’s largest classical Indian dance schools to have been established in the 2000s. He actively contributes to the broader Australian arts scene through his past and present roles which include: Director of Karma Dance, Board Member of the National Theatre (St Kilda), Lead Male Dancer of Sanskriti Dance (Sydney), Vice President of Flare Dance Co. (Melbourne), and Dance Advisor elect to the Federation of Indian Music and Dance Inc (Victoria).

GERARD PIGG

Gerard studied and qualified in Dance – Teaching & Management, and has experience in various genres of dance such as Hip Hop, Ballet, Jazz & Bollywood, to name a few. He has mentored and worked closely with the youth of Victoria, in addition to choreographing and performing in workshops, festivals and events throughout Victoria. Gerard is also Artistic Director for Melbourne’s premiere Bollywood dance group – Sapphire Dance. A gifted dancer and choreographer, Gerard wins new fans wherever he performs. He is also Creative Director and founder of his urban dance group, PROVOKATIV Dance Company.

PRIYANKA SHARMA SINGH

Priyanka is a versatile dancer from India, who loves all things Hip-Hop, House, Bhangra & Bollywood related. Priyanka has trained under many national and international artists such as Philip Chbeeb, Prosenjit Kundu, Bosco & Ceaser, and Shiamak Davar. She took her professional dance training at The Big Dance Centre in Mumbai.

For the past 7 years, Priyanka has taught Bhangra and Hip Hop all around India. Priyanka arrived in Australia in 2016 and is Director of her dance company The Groove Nation. Priyanka performed at the International Punjabi Filmfare Awards 2016, held in Melbourne. She also won at the recent Hip-Hop battle at Open Floor Freestyle Sessions 2016. Priyanka can be found teaching and performing with several dance groups around Melbourne, including Eclectic Clique, Dance Empire and Bindaas Bollywood.

RAMONA YAGNIK

Ramona began studying Kalari Healing and Martial Arts in 2009 in Australia. Since then she has made several trips to India to study and train with her teacher and Guru, Sat Guru Hanuman Das, the founder of the Kalariyil Dharmikam Ashram in Kerala. She is currently practicing and teaching key Kalaripayattu exercises, forms, open combat sequences and staff weapon forms. Developing focus in the mind and body, while building a strong foundation through warm ups and basic practices are integral to her training. Ramona is also a qualified Naturopath.

PARVYN KAUR SINGH

A singer dances within, a dancer sings within. Parvyn does both. She began performing with her father Dya Singh from the age of 5, and with her sisters would conduct Bollywood and Bhangra dance workshops as they traveled to festivals all over the world.

Trained in Kathak at the Kadamb Dance Academy in Ahmedabad, Parvyn has inherited the modern approach to choreography as prescribed by Padmabushan Kumudini Lakhia. Her love of vintage Bollywood is brought to life in the band The Bombay Royale, in which she is the lead female singer. She has been involved in numerous multicultural arts projects and enjoys blending elements from all different styles focusing on poise, balance and intent.

IDA GHATGE

With over 15 years of dance experience, Ida is a trained Kathak dancer of the Jaipur gharana. She has additional experience in dance forms such as Bollywood, contemporary and Indian folk. Ida completed the DPLC course at the Terence Lewis Dance Academy in Mumbai, and later moved to Melbourne where she currently performs with Sapphire Dance as a Bollywood dancer. Ida teaches “Bolly Kathak”, a concept merging classical and commercial arts forms of India. Ida is also a certified Zumba instructor and she runs our Bolly Zumba classes at Studio J.

Jonathan Liu

Jonathan Liu is dancer with A.O Crew, one of Australia’s finest K-pop crews. A.O Crew are famous for their K-pop dance covers, which have hit over 3 million views on YouTube. A.O Crew had the honour of representing Australia at the K-pop Cover Dance Festival in Gangwon, Korea, and they hope to do this again soon. In addition to K-pop, Jonathan is a Hip-Hop and Urban dance choreographer and instructor. He teaches regularly at D-Soul Dance Studio, Melbourne.

SHAMITA SIVABALAN

Sham is a performance artist and actor with an extensive background in dance and physical theatre. Sham has been dancing since the age of 4, dedicating 15 years to RAD classical ballet and qualifying to teach. Although she loved ballet, her passion for dance pulled her in many other directions. She picked up several other styles over the years, including jazz, tap, and contemporary. Her love for hip hop and her background in the queer scene and performance art drew her towards voguing and tutting. She loves bringing communities together through dance, and is excited to be able to share these styles.

PRIYA SRINIVASAN

Priya is an artist and scholar and has performed work around the globe that reveals its own labour, framed by postmodern sensibilities while grounded in Indian “traditional” performance practices. Her work has been presented in diverse settings in many theatre houses, galleries, universities, museums and in public spaces worldwide including China, Europe, India, UK and USA. She has a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and has created the form of “talking dances” based on her award winning book “Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labor”.

Originally from Melbourne, Priya was trained in the classical and contemporary Indian and Asian arts by Dr. Chandrabhanu and performed extensively with the Bharatam Dance Company in her early years. After returning recently to Melbourne, Priya has created a range of community specific pieces that focus on migration and loss, and make visible minority women’s histories offering an alternate feminist aesthetic. She hopes to serve the communities of Melbourne in de-centering practices, re-imagining history in the present, and developing socio-political critiques, in order to enable a better understanding of how art helps communities accept their mutual dependence

ARUN MUNOZ

Arun Munoz was born in Chile and arrived in Australia in 1977. He trained in Bharatanatyam and Odissi dance under Dr Chandrabhanu and was a founder member of Bharatam Dance Company, working as a principal dancer, rehearsal master, vocalist and teacher of classical Indian dance. In 1997 he was one of two N.S.W recipients of the Australia Council Emerging Choreographers Initiative, and he was also awarded a Fellowship by the Australian Choreographic Centre in Canberra. Arun also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in choreography from the Victorian College of the Arts.

In 2000 Arun was part of the choreographic core group of New Moves International Choreographic Lab, Adelaide Festival/ New Moves Dance Festival, Glasgow. He spent the following 12 years working in Spain collaborating with local and international performers. Arun returned to Australia in 2013 to study Photography at CATC Design School where he has been developing his visual arts practice. His passion for understanding the spectrum of the human condition has been, and still is, the underpinning fabric of his creative work.

BUNTY SINGH

Bunty started his Gatka training in India more than 5 years ago, and continues his learning in Australia. Bunty is keen to promote this rare martial art form, which was developed in North India by the Sikhs and passed down through the generations. He is currently practicing and teaching Gatka at the Gurudwara Sahib (Tarneit) and hopes to introduce this ‘complete martial art system’ which incorporates spiritual, mental and physical skills in one. Bunty is also a qualified personal trainer and boxer.

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