Mythili Kumar – Artistic Director and Choreographer
Mythili Kumar is an accomplished artist who performed extensively in India before moving to the U.S. in 1978. She was honored by World Arts West with a Lifetime Achievement Award in June 2010 and received a “Sustained Achievement Award” by the Bay Area Isadora Duncan Award committee in March 2011. In 2015, she was awarded the Legacy Laureate Award from SVCreates, in Silicon Valley. In 2019, she was honored with the Inspire Award from the India Community Center.
Malavika Kumar Walia – Director, Junior Dance Company, & Musician (Nattuvangam)
Malavika Kumar Walia is the daughter and student of Mythili Kumar. As a senior company dancer, choreographer, and teacher, she has been teaching, dancing and performing nattuvangam for arangetrams and company productions since 2000. In a 2004 performance in Chennai, she was lauded by a critic as ‘the star of the show’ for her ‘precise, well-intoned nattuvangam’. She has performed in many of Abhinaya Dance Company’s productions with key roles and has toured with the company to India and around the U.S.A. She has also composed numerous jathis and choreographed items for solo and group performances. In January 2020, she was appointed as the Director of the newly launched Junior Dance Company.
Smt. Subiksha Kodandaraman – Musician (Vocal)
Smt. K Subiksha has had her musical training under Smt. Lalitha Sivakumar since the age of 13 and her music reflects the D.K. Pattammal bani with clear diction and perfect sruthi alignment. Subiksha has won various awards and prizes including the best vocalist award from Sri Parthasarathy swami sabha and Rasika Fine arts. She is also a recipient of the Bharat Kalachar scholarship and is a graded artist of the All India Radio.
Aditya Iswara – Musician (Mridangam)
Aditya is trained in Mridangam, Carnatic Music and Bharatanatyam with an abundant sense of rhythm. He is a disciple of Sri Poovalur Sriji, for Mridangam and Kanjira, Sri Vittal Ramamurthy for Carnatic Violin, and a disciple of his mother, Smt. Vani Iswara for Bharatanatyam. Aditya has been a regular performer as an accompanist for both music and dance across the country. He graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelors and a Masters in Computer Science and is working as a software engineer at a Silicon Valley startup company.
Ashwin Krishnakumar – Musician (Flute)
Ashwin Krishnakumar started training in Carnatic classical flute with Sri. A.V. Prakash in Mysore and by Sri. B.N Suresh in Bangalore and recognized with a scholarship from the Central Govt. of India (CCRT) to pursue advanced training in flute. His musical career includes several solo concerts and he has accompanied various classical music, classical dance, light music productions and fundraisers in India and the US. He is furthering his musical interests under the guidance of Dr. T S Sathyavathi – a renowned musicologist and prime disciple of Sri. R. K. Srikantan.
Vikram Ragukumar – Musician (Violin)
Vikram Ragukumar, had his initial training under legendary violinist Vidwan H.V. Krishnamurthy at Vijaya College of Music, Bangalore. He later pursued intensive training under the able guidance of renowned violinist Vidwan B. Raghuram. Vikram has performed extensively in India and the USA as a solo violinist and as an accompanist for classical music and classical dance performances. He is currently furthering his understanding of music by training under the guidance of Vidushi. Smt. Asha Ramesh. By day he works as a software engineer in the Bay area.
Ragavan Manian (Lyrics and composition for the California wildfire piece)
Ragavan Manian began learning music under guru & aunt Tenkasi P.K. Rajammal and later with Padma Vibhushan Dr. M. Balamurali Krishna. He has performed at prestigious venues such as the Music Academy, and Krishna Gana Sabha from the age of 13. In 2015, he was honored to perform with his guru and Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia at the Indian Parliament House, New Delhi. He has won several awards including the Dr. M. Balamurali Krishna Award for musical excellence (2017) and the Chennai Award for Music (2019). He is an avid music composer and lyricist for music, dance and drama productions. The following excerpts from reviews say it all: “Ragavan Manian is a multi-talented genius who has extended his skills into multiple directions”; “Be it strumming the guitar strings, playing a note on his flute, or getting the rhythm right on his Cajon, he can do it all”.
D.V. Prasanna (Jathi composition for segments of California wildfire piece)
Vidwan D.V Prasanna is a gifted artist excelling in creating intricate rhythmic patterns and performing nattuvangam. He is also a lyricist and has composed lyrics in Sanskrit and Kannada for dance productions. He is a sought after artist for his contribution to music, lyrics and rhythms in several dance productions in Bengaluru, Mysore and Chennai. A student of Vidwan S.V. Giridhar and Vidwan Anoor Anantha Krishna Sharma for percussion and ever seeking excellence, he also trained under the illustrious Vidushi Kamala Rani of Kalakshetra, Chennai and embellished his already fluent and resonant style of Nattuvangam. His exceptional dexterity, firm grasp of Laya, a resonant voice and a deep understanding of Music and Dance enables him to take to nattuvangam as a fish to water.
Vijay M. Rajan (Script for the California wildfire piece)
Vijay M. Rajan is a writer/director for the screen and stage. His screenplays have been produced into feature and short films–including Kepler’s Dream, the 2018 audience award winner at the Mill Valley Film Festival–and his work has been featured at Tabard Theatre, the Morgan Hill Playhouse, and San Jose Stage. In narrative and/or commercial capacities, Vijay has directed Harrison Ford, Neil Gaiman, Bill Engvall, John Turturro, Rosario Dawson, Chuck Palahniuk, and Deepak Chopra, among others. Vijay is the owner of The Hive SJ, a Bay Area storytelling studio that is pioneering a holistic multi-theory approach to acting, directing, and writing education. As Director of Education for EnActe, Vijay works to provide fine performing arts education to students of all ages
Rasika Kumar – Choreography (Jwala Devi) and Direction
Rasika Kumar, an acclaimed performer and choreographer, studied under her mother Mythili Kumar, as well as other renowned master teachers in India. Rasika has been a soloist, principal dancer, and choreographer for all of ADC’s performance seasons since 2005. Rasika’s collaborative choreography with San Jose Taiko garnered an Isadora Duncan Award in 2011. She won the Lakshmi Viswanathan Award from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai, India) in 2014.
Asha Ramesh – Music Composition (Surya Kavuthuvam and Jwala Devi)
Asha Ramesh is a renowned Carnatic Music Master Artist, an experienced singer for classical dance, and an accomplished Hindustani bhajan singer. She was trained in India under renowned teachers in India and has won awards throughout her musical career. Asha also earned the Bachelor and Master’s degrees in music from Madras University. Since 1993 she has composed the music for all of Abhinaya’s original concerts. She received the Vijayalakshmi Award for best vocalist from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in 2010 and the title of Isai Arasi by Trinity Arts Festival of India, Chennai in 2013. Asha was a master artist in Alliance for California Traditional arts -ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2000 and 2005.
Pooja Sohoni trained under Mythili Kumar and performed her arangetram in 2007. She participated in Abhinaya’s 30th anniversary series in 2010. In 2017, she returned to the Bay Area and has performed in productions such as Abhinaya’s ‘Gandhi’ in St. Louis, MO , & San Ramon, CA; ‘Apoorva Katha’ (2017); in the Drive East Festival in New York in 2018 and Abhinaya productions in 2019 and 2020. She has been teaching classes for Abhinaya since 2017 and also mentors students towards their Arangetrams.
Kassiyet is an ICCR scholarship holder and has been trained under Guru Padma Bhushan Dr. Saroja Vaidyanathan and Rama Vaidyanathan at Ganesa Natyalaya in New Delhi. Through the years of her formal training in Kazakhstan and in-depth training in India, Kassiyet has performed and conducted workshops in India and all over the world and is now based in the bay area. She has been training a few students and performing with the company since 2021.
Kalamandalam Supriya Sudhakar is a classical dancer trained in Bharathanatyam and Mohiniyattam. She did her Guru-Kula Sampradaaya based dance schooling and college education from Kerala Kalamandalam and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam. She is the first rank holder of Masters in Bharathanatyam from Madras University (2020). She has performed in several prestigious dance stages in India and USA, including the Common wealth games ceremony in New Delhi, Soorya festival in Kerala, International Film festival in Kerala, Margazhi festivals in Tamil Nadu, Various Sabhas in Chennai such as Narada Gana Sabha, Krishna Gana Sabha, Mylapore Fine Arts, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan etc. She was also a part of Abhinaya’s ‘Vaanaraleela’ dance production in 2016.
Varsha Sankar is a Bharatanrityam dancer and a disciple of Padma Bhushan Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam and Dr. Sujatha Mohan from India. She is a grandniece of Mridangam maestro Guru Karaikudi Mani from whom she has learned advanced rhythmic concepts. Varsha completed her Arangetram in 2007 at the age of 11. She has performed at several leading Sabhas in India and abroad, primarily as a soloist and as a part of group productions of her Guru. She received the “Natya Chudar” award in 2020 from Kartik Fine Arts, “Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Endowment prize” in 2016 from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, and was adjudged best dancer in the youth series conducted by the Indian Fine Arts Society in 2014. She is a recipient of the prestigious CCRT scholarship from the Government of India and is a graded artist of “Doordarshan”, the Indian national television channel. Varsha simultaneously pursued bachelor’s degree in Bharatanatyam and Electrical Engineering and graduated with a University rank 1 in both disciplines. Besides dancing, Varsha is a Data Scientist and works on cutting-edge AI applications after completing her master’s at Stanford University.
Swathi Ramesh completed her arangetram under Smt. Padmini Ramachandran, Bangalore. Since then she has been undergoing training from Smt. Shirisha Shashank. She has performed on numerous occasions around the Bay Area. She performed for Smaran Dance festival in 2014, was selected as a finalist for Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana, and was a member of Natya at Berkeley. In 2019 she participated in Earth Speaks, a production by Samudra Dance creations as well as Storm, a video production which was selected for the Erasing Borders festival. Additionally she was selected as a fellow with Indian Raga in 2021.
Nyna Velamuri trained under Mythili Kumar and performed her arangetram in 2018. She has participated in many company productions, including ‘Vaanara Leela’, ‘I Have a Dream’, ‘Si Se Puede’, and ‘Gandhi’ in St. Louis, MO. She is currently completing her bachelor’s degree at Babson College, while continuing to mentor students and teach classes at Abhinaya.
Srinidhi Nagarajan began learning from Mythili Kumar and the Abhinaya Dance Company in 2012. Since 2019, she has been a member of Abhinaya’s Junior Dance Company under the direction of Malavika Kumar Walia. She has performed with the company at the San Francisco International Arts Festival and at several other locations across the Bay Area. She completed her Bharatanatyam arangetram in August 2022.
Ambhranee Yakkundi, started learning Bharatanatyam at age four from her aunt, Smt. Gargi Panchangam and continued her training from 2012, under Mythili Kumar and the Abhinaya Dance Company. Ambhranee has performed in annual student dance recitals as well as in performances in several Bay Area venues and occasions. Since early 2020, she has performed under the direction of Malavika Walia in Abhinaya’s Junior Dance Company, including performances at the San Francisco International Arts Festival. A Hindustani vocal music student of her father Nachiketa Yakkundi, Ambhranee has performed in several solo and group concerts in the US and India. In addition, Ambhranee is a student of the harmonium maestro Vivek Datar, under whose guidance she has performed in concerts as a solo artist as well as an accompanying instrumentalist. She completed her Bharatanatyam Arangetram in August of 2022.
Netra Ramanatham started learning Bharatanatyam at age 7 under Mythili Kumar at Abhinaya Dance Company. She has performed in Abhinaya Dance Company’s annual student recitals and in several Bay Area temple performances. She completed her Bharatanatyam arangetram in September 2022.
Maya Iyer has learned dance under Mythili Kumar in Abhinaya Dance Company for the past 10 years. In 2019 she joined Abhinaya’s Junior Dance Company under the direction of Smt. Malavika Kumar Walia. Maya completed her Bharatnatyam arangetram in June of 2022. She is a junior at Lynbrook High School and will be graduating in 2024.
Aditi Ghosh, started learning Bharatanatyam at the age of 6 under Mythili Kumar and Smt. Lakshmi Venkatesan in 2012. She completed her Arangetram in September 2022. She has been a member of Abhinaya’s Junior Dance Company under the direction of Smt. Malavika Kumar Walia since 2020. As part of the Junior Dance Company, she has performed at the San Francisco International Arts Festival, San Jose Dance Company showcase, Abhinaya 40th anniversary celebrations and several online premieres.
Meera Srinivasan has been studying & practicing Bharatanatyam for over 18 years under the tutelage of Dr. Joyce Paul Siamak at ARPAN (Seattle, WA). Meera enjoys sharing her passion for dance through performing & arts-related community outreach. Notably, she has performed for several cultural & arts organizations across the U.S., won recognition from the National Young Arts Foundation and placed third at the internationally-recognized Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana Bharatanatyam competition. She is currently a software engineer & recently graduated from Stanford University.
Akshaya Rangarajan has been learning Bharatanatyam from the age of 6 from Guru Smt. Malathy Thothadri, director of Kalasagara. After her Arangetram in 2008, she has given numerous solo performances in reputed Sabhas such as Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Mylapore Fine Arts, Karthik Fine Arts, RR Sabha, RK Swami Hall in Chennai and also been a part of group productions of Kalasagara.
Malini Iyer started learning Bharatanatyam from Mythili Kumar in 2012 and is planning to do her Arangetram in April 2023.
Junior Dance Company
Ambhranee Yakkundi, Srinidhi Nagarajan, Maya Iyer and Aditi Ghosh have been part of the junior dance company since 2020.
Aditya Romfh, and Sasha Balasingam, were selected for the Junior dance company in 2020 and have given several performances with the group. Prisha Balan joined the company in 2021, and Shreya Akshintala in 2022. Anika Meherotra (alternate) is also a part of the junior dance company.