Founded in 2016, Studio J is an independent dance studio which brings together the wide & varied forms of Indian dance. Our huge range of classes offers everything from Indian classical dance to Bollywood, folk & modern cross-cultural. Studio J celebrates the diversity of Indian dance, whilst also respecting its traditions. Our teachers are Melbourne based artists of South Asian heritage, who are top of the industry in their respective art forms. We aim to spread the love and culture of Indian dance by making it accessible, engaging and relevant to all audiences. The only studio of its kind in Australia, Studio J has evolved into a thriving community of students who love Indian dance!
JAYA KARAN, DIRECTOR
Jaya is owner and director of two dance companies, Studio J and Sapphire Dance. A dancer-entrepreneur at heart, Jaya has been the driving force behind both companies success. Jaya was a corporate Physiotherapist in her previous career, but eventually gave that up to pursue her childhood passion. With no prior dance training, she started dancing as a hobby in her early 20’s, and decided to learn Bharatanatyam at the age of 32. Since then, Jaya has gone on to choreograph, teach, perform and work with some of the best in Australia’s Indian dance community. She has retired from corporate life and now works as a full-time dancer and studio owner. Having personally experienced how dance can create positive change, Jaya feels strongly about encouraging others to dance at any age. Read more about Jaya in our full interview here.
Joshinder, has been dancing, choreographing and teaching since 2002. One of the first Bollywood dance instructors in Melbourne, she released Australia’s only ‘Get Fit with Bollywood Dance’ DVD nationwide in 2006. Joshinder later moved to Pakistan, where she was one of the leading choreographers in the country at the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA). She works extensively in theatre, TV and films and has toured and performed internationally in Germany, Malaysia, Dubai, Australia and India. Joshinder completed her Honours in Dance Research and is currently completing her PhD in Arts & Education at at Deakin University. Brilliant at teaching across all age groups, Joshinder is known for her friendly and happy nature which makes all our first timers feel immediately at ease! Read more about Joshinder in this interview!
With over 20 years dance experience, Ida is a Kathak dancer who trained under guru Shri. Harish Gangani. She also attended the Terence Lewis Dance Academy in Mumbai, and later trained in multiple classical & contemporary dance forms. As a seasoned performing artist & choreographer, Ida has graced the stage across India, Europe and Australia. She is also Assistant Creative Director and performer at Sapphire Dance as well as a provisional psychologist completing her last year of clinical training. Read our interview with Ida in our dance blog!
Govind Pillai 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 Victorian Arts Centre, Sydney Opera House, Midsummer Festival, Woodford Folk Festival etc.and has roles as 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). Read more about Govind in his interview here!
Laki has been dancing since the age of 5, and is a multi-skilled Bhangra, Bollywood & Bharatanatyam artist. She co-founded and coached Ranjhe, an all boys Bhangra team. Laki has performed on a wide range of stages including the MCG, Melbourne Convention Centre, Rod Laver Arena, as well as opening acts to numerous celebrities’ concerts including Sidhu Moosewala and Salman Khan. Laki currently performs with Sapphire Dance, as well as running her own Bharatanatyam dance school, Natya Praana.
DIVYA SHREEJIT KUMAR
Divya Shreejit Kumar is a Bharatanatyam artist with an active practice in performance, teaching and choreography. Learning from the age of five, she completed her Master Diploma in Bharatanatyam under Smt. Priya Dinesan. Her 25 years of classical dance practise includes a brief stint at Mohiniyattam. In Melbourne she joined Karma Dance and resumed her training with Govind Pillai – presenting her solo graduation performance in 2017. Since then, she has progressed her training in interrelated aspects of the art including rhythm, notation, composition and choreography. Read more about Divya here!
Having fallen in love with Shakira’s moves, Raksha started learning and performing in 2006. She trained extensively under teachers from India and across the globe. With teaching & choreographing experience of over 9 years, Raksha has been a master trainer in various belly dance festivals, and helped organise the biggest belly dance festival in India – ‘Arabella’. One of her other notable achievements has been that of providing belly dance training to Bollywood actress, Jacqueline Fernandez. Belly dance has helped Raksha immensely in building confidence over the years and she is passionate about bringing about this difference in people’s lives. She currently teaches Belly-Bolly fusion at Studio J Dance and performs with Finucane and Smith. She also is a part of an elite Bollywood dance crew Sapphire Dance!
Sonya has been dancing for over 17 years. She has trained in multiple dance styles, including in Bollywood, Bhangra and Odissi. Sonya was part of Shiamak Dance Academy for 10 years, and later co-founded her own dance company – LAKS Dance Crew. Sonya has extensive experience in performing, teaching and choreographing, and she is our main bridal choreographer at Studio J. When not teaching, Sonya can be found performing & choreographing with Melbourne’s premiere Bollywood dance group – Sapphire Dance
Rashan started learning Kandyan dance in Sri Lanka, at the age of 10. He later went on to learn Bharatanatyam, and graduated from the Kalakshetra in Chennai, India. Rashan was the first Muslim Bharatanatyam and Kandyan dancer in Sri Lanka, and his dedication to dance has been unwaivering. Since arriving in Melbourne, Rashan has continued teaching and performing across Melbourne with his company Pravaha Dancing Foundation, while also managing his event planning & decor company, Samsul Creation.
Ashwini was born in Gandhinagar (Gujarat), and is of Tamil/Telugu heritage. She has been dancing for over 19 years, with training in a huge range of styles including Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Garba, Bhangra, Bollywood, Contemporary and Hip Hop. Ashwini is passionate about dance, as it has brought community, friendship, grace and discipline to her life. An extremely versatile dancer, Ashwini teaches across many of our dance courses, including Garba, Semi-Classical, Bollywood & South Indian Street! Ashwini is also dancer and choreographer for Melbourne’s premiere Bollywood dance group – Sapphire Dance.
Born and raised in India, Samson has been dancing for over 16 years in various styles including Hip-Hop, House, Afro, freestyle and popping. Samson ran his own dance studio in India before moving to Qatar, where he continued to teach. After moving to Melbourne in 2018, Samson resumed teaching while also participating in his main passion – dance battles! Samson aspires to create a positive teaching environment, motivating each student to discover their dancer within.
Sathiya has been dancing, teaching and choreographing for over 13 years, with experience in South Indian dance, Bollywood, Tamil folk and locking. Extremely passionate about South Indian cinematic dance, he formed a college dance crew before later joining Sherif Dance Company in India. Sathiya has choreographed for numerous events, including Tamil reality TV shows, and has performed throughout Melbourne and Chennai. His career highlight was performing alongside Prabhu Deva for the Indian Premier League. Sathiya brings an authentic South Indian street style to Studio J.