Nirathi Rao Kalavapudi
As founder and director of Rhythmaya, Nirathi is dedicated to providing exceptional quality in Indian dance instruction, original choreography, and performance services in the Washington, DC metro area. She teaches and manages multiple Bollywood classes spanning numerous locations at Rhythmaya.
Nirathi’s passion for the performing arts is a product of unshakeable southern roots that can be traced to South India’s Andhra Pradesh and Huntsville, Alabama. Due to the scarcity of dance instructors in her hometown of Huntsville, Nirathi began to master her craft by self-choreographing routines at the age of 10. In addition, she spent two summers in India under Smt. Sumathy Kaushal and learned the basics of the Kuchipudi Indian Classical Dance form.
Today, under Nirathi’s leadership, Rhythmaya students and troupe have performed at several high profile venues in the DC metro area including the Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium, Macy’s Corporation, Kennedy Center, Wolftrap Theater, Lincoln Theater, the Patriot Center, Woolly Mammoth Theater, Legg Mason Festival, Cherry Blossom Festival and the Washington DC Convention Center.
While entertaining is a key objective, Rhythmaya also aims to perform at charity venues to promote their ‘art with a cause’ theme. Their famous message pieces such as “Bhoomi’s Tribe–save the planet” and “Raksha -the arts will save the world” have proven to be popular pieces in the local community.
Nirathi lives with her husband Jayant and their three daughters in Northern Virginia. In her spare time, she enjoys singing, cooking, and spending time with friends and family, especially her nieces and nephews. In addition to running Rhythmaya, Nirathi hopes to collaborate with other Arts Groups and DJs on more fusion projects to bring the best of both worlds together.
Sheila Oak Maggin
After 6 years of partnering with Nirathi, Sheila has helped grow Rhythmaya from a basic dance school to a full fledge Dance Company managing a Franchise in Maryland along with developing a unique Kathak Classical Dance Curriculum for our diverse student base across the DC Metro Area. Under renowned Kathak Guru Asha Vattikuti, Sheila completed her Rangmunch Pravesh in 2002.
A Northern Virginia native, Sheila Oak Maggin is professionally trained in many forms of dance including Kathak, Bollywood, Hip Hop, Ballet, Jazz, Belly Dance, and Middle Eastern Tribal and uses this diverse background to choreograph and bring many new creative ideas and projects to our team.
The Rhythmaya Dance troupe allows Sheila to continue her creative outlet of dance with a group of dancers that all have a common passion for dance. Sheila has made life long friends in the troupe and enjoys spending time with her teammates outside of the group.
Unlike other Bollywood Dance Troupes that perform mostly at weddings or Indian only shows, Sheila appreciates that the Rhythmaya dance troupe incorporates meaningful messages in their pieces — allowing the troupe to perform in unique shows such as IDEA (Indian Dance Educators Assocation)’s “Nourish Our Roots”, Kennedy Center programs, and a variety of fundraising events for different causes.
Sheila works full time as a manager in Finance and Securitization and lives with her husband Daniel and adorable son Brody in Maryland. Outside of dancing, she has a passion for people, family relationships, culinary cuisine and of course embraces her Half Punjabi Half Marathi identity along wit her and newly acquired “Hinjew” culture post marriage.
Growing up, Sahleen started training in Bollywood with Arya Dance Academy during her high school years. While training with them, she worked as the Assistant Dance Instructor at their Gaithersburg location. She gained experience choreographing dances and acquired recognition from teachers, students, friends, and family. She’s explored Zumba and is currently involved in Bhangra. She’s open to learning different dance styles such as Indian classical and other Latin American forms throughout her dance career.
Dance has turned into a beautiful escape for Sahleen from her daily life and gives her a sense of release to take pleasure in what she is most passionate about. Rhythmaya provides her that outlet and fulfills her wish of continuing to be involved in Bollywood dance. She likes that Rhythmaya doesn’t only focus on one dance style but ranges from Modern Hip-Hop to the Indian classical roots and celebrates art and culture through unique concepts. Sahleen values the diversity in the team members plus their diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Shruti began dancing at the age of 4 with a focus in folk Gujarati dance due to heritage. With her exposure to Garba, Shruti went on to perform in many local festivals and competitions as well as FOGANA (The Federation of Gujarati Associations of North America) all before the age of 7. To further her study of Indian dance, Shruti trained in Kathak and Bharatanatyam to gain discipline. With a growing interest in dance she went on to train in Belly dance, Hip Hop, Jazz, Contemporary, and Ballroom in an effort to be well rounded. Her variety of training and experience drove her to teach Bollywood fusion dance classes in 2008, and has been teaching dance ever since.
Bollywood Adult Fitness Class Instructor
Jothi started her love of dance at the age of 4, training in Bharatanatyam for over 20 years. With the classical background under her belt she later branched out to other Indian and Western dance styles such as Bhangra, Bollywood, and Hip Hop and later co-founded the Ek Taal Dance Troupe. After several injuries and childbirth, Jothi eagerly wanted to get back into dancing and introduce dance to her daughter as well. Rhythmaya seemed to be the best of all worlds and gave Jothi the opportunity to use her vast dance background to create Adult Dance Fitness classes which gives adults a chance to have fun and dance to up beat Indian and Western music and dance styles while working out!
My experience as a dancer is self-taught. My learning experience consisted of watching the best dancers in Bollywood and trying to mimic them in the comfort of my own living room. (I’m fairly certain it all started off with watching Shah Rukh Khan in “Chaiyya Chaiyya”; at least, that’s what my parents tell me.) As I grew older, I began getting involve
in various cultural events and, in the process, fell in love with dance, choreography, and performing. Starting high school at TJ, I invested a majority of my extracurricular time into organizing and choreographing dances for TJ’s International Night, the l
argest cultural event in the school. Before high school, I was never aware of what Bhangra even was. After working with my upperclassmen in school, I learned the basics and improved year by year from there. In addition, as each year passed, I developed my interest as a Bollywood dancer just through performing. Choreographing these dances made me realize how much I enjoyed working with people and brining them to the stage. It’s always incredible to watch the people you’ve taught suddenly be fearless on the stage a
nd give their 110%. While I might not have received formal training, I can confidently say my experience as a self-taught dancer has made me the performer I am today. Aside from dance, I love playing all kinds of sports (for example: soccer, basketball, volleyball). Academically, I am passionate about the medical field; it’s a field that constantly engages your problem solving skills and brings something new to the world each day. And, of course, the science behind the medicine is nothing short of beautiful. I am incredibly excited to be working for Rhythmaya! I can’t wait to meet the kids and families and create an exciting and enjoyable atmosphere for them!
Jigisha has performed Bollywood and Garba/Raas throughout community events her whole life in her hometown Birmingham, Alabama. After moving the DC area with her two boys and joining them as students in Rhythmaya, Jigisha began assisting the directors in various dance classes. After just a few short weeks, she became a natural in turning complicatedsteps into simple fun for beginners and has a great way of making our energetic boys a group of disciplined and coordinated dancers! In her spare time, Jigisha enjoys playing soccer, trying new restaurants, hanging out with her sons, and is excited to continue to share her love and music and dance with them as a mom and now as a Rhythmaya instructor!
Neha has been dancing since she was a young child. She studied Kuchipudi for 7 years and later went on to join collegiate bhangra and bollywood fusion team in where she took part and placed in top 3 with her teams at national dance competitions. Neha enjoys being a part of the Rhythmaya faculty because it gives her an opportunity to keep the Indian culture and arts alive for future generations and helps build confidence in children. Outside of Rhythmaya, Neha is pursuing a career in Public Health and enjoys working on creative projects.
Alyssa started as a Bharatanatyam dancer at the Kalairani Natya Saalai dance school in Maryland. It was there that she started to develop a passion for dance and performing. In high school, she explored other styles of dance such as tap and jazz. For a few years, Alyssa has been volunteer teaching dance for Ichamati, which is a non-profit Bengali organization. It was through her experience with there that she discovered that teaching dance is one of her strengths. Alyssa was also a dancer and choreographer for Chalak, the Bollywood fusion dance team at Towson University. Dancing on this team is very memorable to her, because she was able to perform with her best friends. This is Alyssa’s first year teaching for Rhythmaya, and she already feels like she is part of the family. The thing she loves most about this dance company is that the classes are a fun learning experience for kids. She is very thankful for this opportunity and will work very hard for her students to develop into strong and graceful dancers.
Rikita started learning dance at a very young age, starting with Ballet and Tap. To further her knowledge of dance, she learned various Indian dance styles, such as Kuchipudi, a classical Indian dance which she trained in for several years. She is self-taught in Garba-Raas, a Gujarati Folk dance, and Bollywood, which she was exposed to from the grace, flair, and energy of Bollywood movies. Since then, Rikita has participated in numerous Garba and Bollywood routines at local and national religious events. In college, Rikita joined two nationally accredited dance teams. Her involvement on the UIUC Raas team helped her enhance her attention to detail and coordination. She then became member and captain of UIUC Fizaa and led her team to award-winning performances across the nation. Rikita is very excited to use her experience and incorporate it into her dance classes this year!
Lovepreet started Bhangra in his childhood at the age of 6 and since then always performed at parties. He then became a Bhangra instructor in 2011 and progressed to start his own private Bhangra team in 2012 which is still performing! He joined and danced for the University of Maryland Bhangra team beginning in 2013 as well. Since then, he has been teaching Bhangra to all age groups and managing Gabroo Punjab De Bhangra. In addition, Lovepreet enjoys anything to do with the outdoors! He especially enjoys going bicycling and kayaking in the river by his home. Remixing and disc jockeying are also favorite hobbies of his. Check out Lovepreet’s Bhangra class schedule today!