Rhythmaya Dance was started in 2005 by Nirathi Rao with a vision of spreading her passion and love for Indian dance styles. Growing from humble beginnings, Rhythmaya’s first Bollywood classes were hosted in Nirathi’s garage and basement. With only a handful of students, the dance academy began making a name for itself with performances in local community centers and small gigs/venues. Every year, Nirathi saw an increase of students and Rhythmaya Dance really started to expand.
A few years after starting, Shelia Oak joined the ranks and there was no stopping Rhythmaya Dance. Kathak dance classes were added and Rhythmaya extended into Maryland. Nirathi and Shelia became a dynamic duo who turned this dance academy into something more than just a few dance classes.
Rhythmaya Dance now has 6 locations, 25 experienced instructors and 300+ wonderful students. Apart from Bollywood and Kathak dance classes, Rhythmaya has expanded its services to include special choreography workshops for weddings/special events, a performance troupe, and an array of beautiful costumes available to rent.
At Rhythmaya Dance it is understood that anyone can become a dancer but only with the support of a devoted community. That is why this dance academy is a perfect fit for anyone of any background. When you join the Rhythmaya community, you join a large, loyal and loving family where the only thing that matter is: Are you ready to get up and move?
Bollywood & Kathak Dance Classes
Bollywood is a beautiful blend of classical Indian dance, folk Indian dance and the more current R&B, hip hop music. From the upbeat music to the colorful costumes, Bollywood is a celebration of Indian culture. Come experience it the Rhythmaya way with a chance to perform and be a part of a community!
Kathak is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dance that traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathakars or storytellers. Kathakas present their dances with outstanding grace while maintaining quick footwork, expressive faces and tremendous strength. Join Rhythmaya’s modern Kathakas today and become part of this centuries old community!
Behind the Masterminds
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. Due to Nirathi’s initiative, drive and leadership, Rhythmaya has grown from a small basement dance class to an extensive dance academy and devoted community.
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, Nirathi lives with her husband, Jayant, and their three daughters in Northern Virginia. In her spare time, she enjoys singing, bringing her community together, and spending time with her VERY large family.
Since partnering with Nirathi in 2013, Sheila has helped develop Rhythmaya from a basic dance school to a full-fledged dance company by managing a franchise in Maryland and developing a unique Kathak classical dance curriculum for the diverse student base across the DC Metro area.
A Northern Virginia native, Sheila Oak Maggin is professionally trained in many forms of dance including Kathak (completing her Raangmunch Pravesh in 2002 under renowned Kathak Guru Asha Vattikuti), Bollywood, Hip Hop, Ballet, Jazz, Belly Dance, and Middle Eastern Tribal. She uses this diverse background to choreograph exceptional dances and to bring new and creative ideas/projects to the team. Whenever Rhythmaya is in need of fresh, innovative, original content, Shelia is just the woman for the job!
Sheila works full time as a manager in Finance and Securitization. She lives with her husband, Daniel, and two adorable sons in Maryland. Outside of dancing, she has a passion for people, family relationships, and culinary cuisine. Sheila is constantly deemed as being the “life of the party” and having a “fun, infectious energy that people constantly want to be around”. Her culture and background are also very important to her as she fully embraces her Half Punjabi, Half Marathi identity along with her newly acquired “Hinjew” culture post marriage.
Meet Our Instructors
Young, driven, and full of energy, Arzoe Singh has been dancing with Rhythmaya since 2015, starting off with Teen Troupe and added teaching Bollywood Tots and Minis at the Maryland branch since 2018 to her schedule. Her love for dance started at the age of 3 and has expanded as she always keeps an open mind to new styles of dance such as Bhangra and Hip Hop. As a teacher, Arzoe’s main goal is to spread the joy and love that Bollywood has always given her and make her students experience how fun dance can truly be. Outside of dance, Arzoe loves to read novels, rewatch her favorite shows on Netflix, and is President of her school’s National Honors Society. Arzoe hopes to continue her passion of dance in college alongside her dream of becoming a pediatrician.
Jigi Modi Dahagam
Jigi joined Rhythmaya initially as a parent when her son joined Nirathi's Tots class in 2014. After a year of assisting during class and stepping in as a substitute when needed, Nirathi encouraged Jigi to officially teach Merrifield Tots and Minis! Throughout her childhood in Birmingham, AL, Jigi performed Gujarati and Bollywood dances during many community Diwali, Holi and other Indian programs. Today, she effortlessly passes on her dance passion and skills to Rhythmaya students --including her two sons! In fact, many of her young pupils, girls and boys, ask if Miss Jigi can continue to be their teacher even after they graduate to more advanced Rhythmaya classes.
Lekha Kachoria is a rising senior at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, and has been dancing with Rhythmaya since she was 3 years old. She is thrilled that she has the opportunity to engage with younger kids to spread the love of dance, and help them see that it is a language within itself. Along with dancing, she is a part of her high school lacrosse team, playing varsity goalie. She is also an avid member of the Black Lives Matter movement, having helped create the Bethesda chapter. She hopes to dance for her college team in future.
Megha Thomas is an instructor for junior level dancers in the Rockville branch. She has been with Rhythmaya for 5 years and has previously received training in Bharatnatyam. Megha’s time with her middle school dance company also gave her experience in jazz, modern, and ballet. The various styles that she is familiar with can be seen through her fun and energetic choreography. When she’s not dancing, Megha spends her free time running, singing, and reading.
Sanjana has been dancing with Rhythmaya for over 15 years, and has been teaching with the studio for the last 2 years. In addition to Bollywood, Sanjana has been learning Kuchipudi for 12 years, and completed her Rangapravesam in 2018. She has also recently taken up Bhangra. Sanjana not only loves to dance, but choreograph as well, something she has done for Rhythmaya and events at her school. She is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science at Technology, and is studying computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. She plans to continue dancing both in college and with Rhythmaya in the future.
Arpita has been a fan of Rhythmaya since 2008 when classes were taking place in her friend Nirathi’s basement. Since then, as a mother of three, Arpita began assisting with the Herndon’s Bollywood Tots/Minis Class and Virginia’s Kathak Pearls and Jades. A Bollywood fan from birth, Arpita grew up in rural Pennsylvania where she never had the opportunity to learn Bollywood or Classical Indian Dance (aside from copying Madhuri Dixit dance videos on TV Asia). It has become her mission to not only assist in teaching her own children and Rhythmaya’s students, but to also expand her proficiency in South Asian Dance.
Since 2008, Jiya Arora has been a student at Rhythmaya learning dance, and is now a member of the Teen Troupe and teaches Advanced Juniors. With 10+ years of experience with Kathak (now working on completing her Raangmunch), Bollywood, Hip-Hop, and Jazz, Jiya loves to challenge her students with rigorous, thoughtful routines to help them expand their skills and strength as dancers, with a goal of giving them the confidence to express themselves through dance without needing guidance from a teacher. In addition to teaching dance, Jiya is a civil rights activist with the organization Montgomery County Students for Change, a member of the National Young Leader’s Conference, and a member of Richard Montgomery High School’s Student Legal Association.
Tanisha G. Ducharme
Tanisha started dancing when she was in first grade, and dance has always had a special place in her heart. She journeyed through everything from ballet to Bollywood to Bharatanatyam to Bhangra over the course of her childhood and young adult life. This included doing her Arangetram in high school in Vermont, choreographing for large groups and shows in college in Michigan, being a captain of an Indian fusion competitive dance team, and teaching. Since moving to the DC/VA area, Tanisha has continued to search for ways to incorporate dance into life while working and raising two young kids. Tanisha has been thankful for finding Rhythmaya and is really enjoying continuing her dance journey and watching other young dancers pursue theirs!
Rashi has been dancing with Rhythmaya since 2015 and has fallen in love with bollywood dancing ever since. She started taking dance classes from Sheila and participated in the annual Holi and Diwali show from 2015-2017. Rashi joined Rhythmaya's Rockville teen troupe in 2018 and began teaching dance to Rhythmaya's younger students in 2020. Rashi loves Bollywood dancing and the thrill of performing at places such as Kings Dominion, the Afghan Embassy, and the NBA Wizards Halftime show but her favorite thing about dancing with Rhythmaya is the lifetime friendships formed with her fellow dancers and with Sheila and Nirathi as they have had an instrumental impact on Rashi's dance career and have inspired her love for dance.
Preetha joined the team early last year as one of the many teachers at Ryhmaya's Rockville Studio. Prior to joining Rythmaya as a Juniors and Advanced Junior teacher she spent time training in Bhartaynayam and is even part of the University of Maryland's Premier Classical Indian Dance team, UMD Moksha. Moving forward, Preetha hopes to expand her skills in Bollywood dance!
From a young age, she has spent time watching and dancing to Bollywood movies. To expand on these skills, she has also been trained in Bollywood Dance from the Strathmore Music center. Preetha hopes to spread her love for Indian dance and culture to kids, as well as create a positive and fun environment for learning dance!
Vidya Govil, Bride's Mom
Working with Sheila had been a joyful experience. She is talented, creative and experienced enough to know how to choreograph to the group. She is very punctual, communicative and a good listener too. Her energy permeates the room and she is able to capture the attention of a very big group too! She’s a dynamo at work!
Smitha, Rhythmaya Customer
We live in an area without easy access to Bollywood dance classes, but my 10-year-old daughter was very keen on learning a dance with her friends for an upcoming Indian festival. I reached out to Nirathi and she was so helpful to teach us from afar. She chose beginner level steps and paired them with fun, current songs. When we hit some stumbling blocks, she patiently broke down steps for us. She put together a few dances, consistently checked up on us, sent us an audio file for our event with the medley of songs, and rented us beautiful colorful costumes. My daughter and her friends had a wonderful experience with Rhythmaya Dance and would like to continue dancing. I would definitely recommend her services if you have an event in the future that requires a fun Bollywood dance for any age group.
Sanjana Meduri, Rhythmaya Past Student, Now Teacher
I love being a teacher with Rhythmaya because it gives me a chance to give back to the studio I’ve been with since I was pretty much a baby. This means a lot to me because it gives me a sense of pride for helping the studio which gave so much to me. These dance classes are heartening and give people a positive and healthy way to spend time. I’m so glad I get to be a part of this community!
FULL SERVICE STUDIO