Chitresh Das Dance Company

Instructors

All Chhandam instructors receive intensive training directly under world-renowned master, Pandit Chitresh Das, in the traditional Guru-Shishya Parampara (one-to-one Guru-Disciple Tradition)


Charlotte Moraga
Senior Instructor, CDDC Member & Soloist

Charlotte began dancing at the age of 9 and was formerly a professional Jazz dancer. Her first encounter with Kathak was with Pandit Das' course at San Francisco State University in 1991. Now a senior disciple, she is a senior instructor at the Chhandam School of Kathak Dance. She has toured internationally as a principal dancer with CDDC as well as an accomplished solo artist for over 20 years.  Critics have called her performances, “…brilliant…” and “dazzling...” She has received many awards, such as the San Francisco Foundation’s Shenson Fellowship in 2007 and the prestigious Performing Diaspora residency.  Charlotte has written several published articles about Kathak.  

 

 

Seibi Lee
Senior Instructor, CDDC Member & Soloist

Seibi began her Kathak studies in Toronto, Canada in 1991. She relocated to the Bay Area in 1998 to study directly with Panditji.  Today, she is a senior instructor at the Chhandam School of Kathak. As a member of CDDC and an acclaimed soloist, she has earned rave reviews for her dual dramatic roles of demon Marich and beloved monkey prince Hanuman in Panditji's world premiere of "Sita Haran" in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Kolkata, India.  In Novemeber of 2008, she presented her debut full length solo performance at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center and has been chosen as OACC's artist-in-residence for 2012-2013.  Seibi embodies the depth of Panditji’s training and has emerged as a powerful force in the next generation of Kathak artists. 

Seibi received her BS from the University of Alberta and a BS and MS in Music Performance at the University of Toronto.  She is a classically trained symphonic harpist.

Rachna Nivas
Chhandam School Director, Senior Instructor, CDDC Member & Soloist

Rachna begain studying with Pandit Das in 1998 and has performed extensively to critical acclaim at prestigious venues all over the U.S. and India as a solo artist and as a CDDC member. She is a senior instructor and Director of Chhandam School of Kathak, managing the operations of over 500 students and 15 teachers. Rachna's vision is to raise awareness of the rich history and philosophy of India through Kathak and for it to be a tool for empowerment, social justice, and self-realization. She brings a fierce passion to her performances and has pioneered the use of harmonium in Pandit Das' innovation of Kathak Yoga.  
www.rachnanivas.com

Rachna holds a B.A. in South Asian Studies from UC Berkeley, and a Masters in Public Health.  Prior to becoming a dancer full-time, she worked in health education for underserved low-income Asian Americans. 

 

Rina Mehta
Director & Senior Instructor, Chhandam S. California, CDDC Member & Soloist

Rina began her study of Kathak with Pandit Das in 2000.  Since joining CDDC, she has performed in several critically-acclaimed productions.  She has received the Alliance for California Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant and has performed at prestigious venues/festivals nationally and in India.  Rina is founder and director of Chhandam’s Los Angeles area branches is Executive Producer of UPAJ, a documentary on Pt. Chitresh Das’ groundbreaking collaboration with tap star Jason Samuels Smith, India Jazz Suites.
www.rinamehtakathak.com

Rina holds a BA and MPH from UC Berkeley, and has worked with nonprofits dedicated to improving the health of low-income women.  She later joined the Center for Asian American Media, and went on to become the Executive Producer for the documentary, Upaj.

 

Pratibha Patel
Sacramento Branch Director & Instructor

Pratibha began her Kathak studies with Pandit Das in 1988 while at SFSU.  She started teaching children in New Jersey in 2000, and then in Sacramento since 2001. Over the years, Pratibha has been involved in arts education initiatives, acting as a guest speaker for Folsom Lake College's World Dance History course and participating in local Diversity and Heritage day presentations.  She is a disciple of Panditji and current Branch Director and Senior Teacher of the Sacramento Branch.  She previously served on the CDDC Board from 2003 through 2010.

Pratibha is currently the New Business Development and Inside Sales Manager for CoPower and the mother of two teenagers.  She feels that teaching and connecting with people of all ages through dance is nourishment for the soul.

 

Seema Mehta
Director & Instructor, Chhandam Nritya Bharati; Mumbai India & Soloist

Seema started her training with Pandit Chitresh Das in 2000.  She eventually went on to direct Chhandam Nritya Bharati (Pandit Das' school in India), teaching over 100 students.  She believes that teaching is an important and vital part of passing on the legacy.  She recently assumed position as a Kathak teacher at the Cathedral John Cannon School in Mumbai. She is an emerging solo artist and has performed at several prestigious venues in India. Seema has performed with CDDC in productions like Darbar and Shabd. She also plays an instrumental role in presenting Kathak and Indian classical dance and music in India.

Seema is trained as a fine artist, specializing in painting and sculpture, and headed the Design department of Kirtilals for 5 years.  

 

 

Labonee Mohanta
Fremont Branch Director, Instructor, CDDC Member & Soloist

Labonee began her training in Kathak with Pandit Das at an early age of 8. She has established herself as an emerging solo artist, having performed traditional Kathak solos in festivals to great acclaim recently in India, Canada and USA. Labonee is a member of CDDC and has toured with Panditji throughout the US. Labonee complements her training with running marathons and providing musical accompaniment in classical dance concerts. As a second generation Indian in America, she plays a significant role in preserving the cultural heritage of India in the East and spreading these values to the West.
www.labonee.com

Labonee studied applied mathemetics at UC Berkeley and has worked as an Actuary at Blue Shield of California.

 

 

Cimeron Ahluwalia
Instructor

Cimi began her study of Kathak with Pandit Chitresh Das at San Francisco State University (SFSU) in 1999.  She has performed with the Chitresh Das Dance Company in such productions as Sampurnam and Sita Haran and is embarking on the journey towards her first traditional Kathak solo.  She has also been a teaching assistant direclty to Pandit Das' first accredited Kathak course at SFSU for several semesters.

 

 

 

 

Darlene Dhillon
Instructor

Darlene started her Kathak study in 2001 at SFSU in Pt. Das’ accredited Kathak course and has been teaching at Chhandam since 2005.  She has performed in such CDDC performances as Darbar and Sita Haran and also performs in arts education performances at Bay Area Schools. 

She worked for 5 years as a full time staff member of CDDC as Administrative Manager.   She has also worked in the field of SF performing arts: i.e. SF Mime, Golden Thread, BK Repertory Theatre.  She is thrilled to be a part of such a dynamic, far reaching organization that is dedicated toward preserving the art of Kathak at its highest standard.

 

Anita Pai
Instructor

Anita has been studying Kathak dance at Chhandam since early 2005.  She has a background in Hindustani Classical music, having studied it for many years in India.  Both her daughters are also students at Chhandam and are members of the Chhandam Youth Dance Company.

Anita has Masters degrees in Physics and Computer Science from India, and has worked for various IT companies in India, U.K., and U.S.

 

 

 

Preeti Zalavadia
Instructor

Preeti joined the Chhandam School of Kathak in 2003 and has been involved at many levels within the school.  She has been teaching at Chhandam since 2007 and has performed in various school productions like the Ramayana.

Outside of Chhandam, Preeti works in project management.  She continues to be amazed by the physcial and mental challenges and the ensuing rewards of the beautiful art form of Kathak.  She also holds a BS in Civil and MS in Transportation Engineering and has worked as project manager in the Digital Navigational Maps field.

 

 

Poonam Narkar
Berkeley Branch Director & Instructor

Poonam began her training in Kathak in 2007 at Chhandam. She has been involved with several Arts Education performances and community performances throughout the Bay Area. She recently performed in Pt. Das' grand production Darbar and toured with the Chitresh Das Dance Company to perform in Panditji's visionary dance drama Sita Haran, in which she played the part of Sita.

Poonam is currently the Branch Director and an Instructor at the Berkeley branch of Chhandam. She is also the Education and School Program Coordinator for Chhandam School of Kathak. She is passionate about sharing the art form of Kathak to diverse audiences and especially enjoys working with kids in the classroom.

Poonam is trained in Architecture and Urban Planning with ten years of professional experience working and currently runs an independent consulting practice.


2325 3rd St. #320, San Francisco, California 94107 | Phone: 415-333-9000 | Fax: 415-373-1731 | e: inquiries@kathak.org

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