Veteran international dance tutor of over 21 years, choreographer, performer, show producer, theatre actor, presenter, & former dance finalist of India, Priya Chellani is the founder of Indigo.
An award-winning teaching artist, specializing in Bollywood and Indian dance performances, Priya hails from the birthplace of “Bollywood” cinema, Bombay, India.
- She conducted a thriving academy of pupils in Mumbai (India’s financial and entertainment capital) for a decade and half.
- She was Runner-up/ Dance Finalist, India-wide in a Fusion Duet Dance Championship in Mumbai, in the early 90’s. She placed alongside the ranks of veteran Bollywood choreographers such as Farah Khan, Longines Fernandes (now “Slumdog Millioannaire” choreographer), DJ Akbar Sami (now India’s #1 DJ), Ken Ghosh (now Bollywood director/producer of films like “Fiza”), Ravi Behl & Naved (now producers of “Boogie Woogie” India’s longest running TV dance reality show)
- She was co-choreographer for a Bollywood movie , and prize-winning student entries at reality TV dance shows during 1986- 2000
- She has been guru to children of a few famous actors and upcoming artists of the Bollywood industry during her teaching years in Mumbai’s western suburb, Bandra- (home to megastars Shahrukh, Salman, Amir Khan & others)
- Trained in classical Indian dance Katthak under Padmashri Guru Gopikrishna, India, (a maestro choreographer who coached Bollywood stars), while in her formative years of her career in Mumbai India, Priya pursued fitness, aerobics, yoga, modeling, dance theater, scripting & direction of musicals for school and children’s theatre.
- She was among very first pioneer teachers to introduce Fusion Dance as a PE activity in western Bombay’s academic schools & one of the earliest teachers to recognize and put gifted children in the spotlight at public events in the city, and TV, theatre and live events.
- Before starting her teaching career, she was a resident choreographer at Bombay University’s Dance and Drama program; co-founder and co-choreographer of college dance team, including Bollywood actors Ravi Behl, Naved Jaffrey and other dance celebrities of the Bollywood entertainment industry, India.
- Migrating offshore in global destinations Dubai & New Zealand, she coached a multitude of cultures from years 1998-2010, and worked with international event and educational organizations for TV and news & media. She created shows in Dubai for brands Reebok, KFC, Giordano, Esprit, Splash Iconic among others and hosted Bollywood & related live events for UAE Chambers of Commerce UAE, UAE Airports Authorities and the Royal Family of UAE.
- She produced shows for New Zealand’s Town parks and recreations, retail, hospitality & fitness industries as well as within the cultural Indian diaspora and mainstream establishments of both countries, for children and adults, prior to settling in the USA.
- Since making her home in the United States in 2010, she certified as a U.S Group Fitness professional with nationally accredited institutions AAAI-ISMA and AFAA USA, developed her own fitness workout, “BollyRobics” and briefly coached community groups in Atlanta.
- Year 2013, she founded and became the driving force of Indigo Dance Evolution, offering regular coaching in both dance and dance fitness in the Triangle area, to Bollywood and Indian culture lovers, programs that are offered to the general public through the City of Raleigh, Town of Morrisville, as well as through corporate employee fitness programs, at tech. giants CISCO, Lenovo, NetApp headquarters in the area.
Priya brings a rich knowledge base of 25 years of teaching to North Carolina, USA. Trained in a gamut of styles and more than 500 shows, training over 5000 students in a lifetime experience of over 30,000 hours of international teaching under her belt, her rich experience is unique to the realm of Bollywood Dance in the Triangle. She specializes in providing core Bollywood training to everyday people from all walks of life as well as upcoming artists. Over the years, she has coached students to a level of excellence, helping them achieve their goals, whether it be winning competitions, refining their screen or stage skills, standing out at social events, contributing their talent to charitable causes, or just surprising friends and family. She made dance affordable and accessible to hundreds of students globally, for whom dance would otherwise be out of bounds. With low training fees and a no-judgement zone, she makes all learners from all walks of life and diverse nationalities, feel welcome.
- Within just 3 years in Raleigh, she has led over 70 showcases in the Triangle area for a wide client base in hospitality, retail, public recreation, health & education.
- Priya introduced Bollywood Dance Fitness for the first time to employee-members of Fortune 500 corporates in the RTP such as Cisco and NetApp, 2015
- First to introduce Bollywood Dance in Raleigh, by Senior Citizens, 2013
- Within a year, Leading a winning Adult group that placed second in the Triangle’s first International Dance Contest, at the Raleigh International Festival 2014.
- Indigo’s Teen Category dance students win Grand Prize & First Place at the Teen Triangle International Contest in Raleigh, 2015
- She was the first to bring a highly entertaining Bollywood Interactive fare to the Triangle , 2013
- Her Youtube channel is proof of her prolific work in the Triangle- with over 300 dance videos, it is the largest Bollywood dance & fitness database in North Carolina – and with a growing international following!
Her efforts in popularizing the Bollywood genre to a diverse American society, actively imparting to local communities, academic institutions, corporate and public recreation centers, and promoting her students at public events, is seeing a growing awareness of Bollywood Dance in the region. Priya personally coaches or supervises every class round the year. She freely shares of her lifelong passion, and wealth of the cultural evolution of Indian Dance with her students. With this experience, she is capable of bringing both the creative and the fitness quotient into their dance & workout regime. From motivating at a macro level, to helping the beginner student, she brings out the hidden dancer in even the most novice starter. As a tutor and choreographer, she not only gleans from her rich, past experience, but avidly pursues futuristic trends in dance and fitness.
Also a gifted actor, Priya also dabbles in theatre and on-screen, during her spare time from directing Indigo. She has appeared in powerful protagonist roles overseas as well as in comic cameos.
Priya lives in Cary with her husband and is mother to a 22 y old collegiate. With her lifelong devotion to the performing arts, she is an inspiration to many.
- Bollywood Fusion, and Freestyle Rock n’ Roll Champion, Mumbai India, (1986-1990)
- Certified in Aerobics Personal Fitness Training , from AAAI-ISMA, U.S.A, and Certified in Group Fitness, AFAA, U.S.A
- CPR, First Aid and AED certified
- Certified in Katthak Classical and Folk Dance, Nateshwar Institute Guru Gopikrishna Bombay, India
- Certified teacher of Yoga to Young Adults from The Yoga Institute, Bombay India.
- Vetted by the New Zealand Ministry of Education; Certified in Early Child Care
- Multi-lingual, Native fluent speaker of Hindi and other Indian dialects, fluent in English
Detailed chronological bio : Years 1985 – 2015 :
- Priya’s introduction to dance were as a natural artiste from a very early age.
- She ranked in Bombay, India’s Top Five Finalists in Modern Duet Championships twice in consecutive years in the ’90s. At only 16, she placed in the ranks of some of today’s stalwart professionals in the competitive Bollywood and related film entertainment industry in India, topnotch directors, film-makers & TV producers of today, namely Farah Khan (international Bollywood director-choreographer), Naved Jaffery & Ravi Behl (producers of India’s premier and longest-running TV Dance Reality Show “Boogie Woogie”), Longines Fernandes, (choreographer of international runaway success “Slumdog Millionaire”), Ken Ghosh ( Director of famous Bollywood films ‘Fiza” and others), Sajid Khan (Director/Actor/TV presenter), International DJ Akbar Sami, & other well-known names of India’s entertainment industry.
- While completing her Bachelor’s in Accountancy and Management from the University of Bombay, she headed the Performing Arts society of her college, receiving several inter-collegiate accolades at high-profile festivals at archaic institutes such as St.Xavier’s College (“Malhar”), Sophia Bhabha Polytechnic (“Sofiesta”), VJTI Powai (Pratibimb) , IIT (Mood Indigo), and others.
- She attained her dance coaching of Indian classical Katthak and Folk dance styles from Natraj Gopikrishna’s Institute
- Hailing from Mumbai’s western suburb of Bandra, (home to some of today’s top Bollywood stars), along with her trailblazing peers she was among the first to experiment aligning popular western dance styles with Indian elements and was among those pioneer dancers, who introduced styles termed as the ‘father of fusion’ we see today.
- Rising from this fountain-head of creativity and talent, Priya founded her busy academy in Mumbai in 1990
- Popularized both at her center and numerous recreation centers. she also was among the first to introduce Fusion Dance as a PE activity in academic schools & among the first to recognize and put gifted children in the spotlight at public events in the city, including TV, theatre and live events.
- Her structured courses taught at her academy in India for over a decade became very popular with working professionals, families & upcoming artists alike.
- Priya Introduced musical theater into her showcases, writing and executing a variety of original Bollywood styled skits for schools & colleges in Bombay (India) (1990-’97), Dubai (’98-2000) and later, Atlanta (USA) (2009-10).
- Among other artistic endeavors, Priya & her academy have performed for the Royal Family of UAE as well as at Bollywood celebrity events in Dubai & Bombay during her time in the Indian sub-continent & was the First Indian dance professional to bring a nationwide live dance contest for children in the United Arab Emirates (Year 1998)
- First Bollywood team dancing at the New Zealand Parliament building, in 2004, to promote the cause of Indian Culture in New Zealand.
- First to Represent Indian culture at mainstream Holiday parades in western shores (New Zealand, Year 2004)
- Priya is also a gifted theatre actor, having played challenging lead roles during her time in New Zealand, with Prayas NZ , a prolific high-profile Indian theatre group that regularly stages productions to showcase stories from the rich, traditional and urban landscapes of India.
- A post-graduate in Business Management , she was awarded a scholarship to the best business mentoring school from the University of Auckland, for her Public Relations and creative role in film & media, assisting in developing New Zealand’s first-ever pneumatic simulator prototypes for the global edutainment industry by Space Dome Technologies Ltd., inaugurated by Hon. Helen Clark, (then Prime Minister of New Zealand) at the national Museum of Transport & Technology.
Famous Alumni of her academy in Mumbai (1990-’97):
Priya is the proud guru of quite a few young and upcoming students making waves in the edutainment circuit in India, with some of her former students who took core dance training under her, now having become actors, directors, choreographers & teachers. Among others are young & upcoming actresses Adah Sharma -(Films “Hassee To Phassee‘, ‘Phhir”,”1920″ “Hum Hai Rahi Car ke 2012″ & “Raaz ” ), Shehnaz Treasury– (films “Delhi Belly”, “Ishq Vishq” “Love Ka the End”), actress Heeba Shah (Stage actress- daughter of Hollywood/Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah), Dance choreographer-performer Shampa Sonthalia (daughter of legendary Guru Gopikrishna, who studied her first modern styles from Priya), actress Perizaad Zorabian, Bollywood director Meghna Gulzar (daughter of actor Raakhee & film-maker– Gulzar) among others. Priya has also taught dance to other eminent political & media families in Mumbai and choreographed family skits for celebrity Bollywood weddings such as producer of blockbuster films Ritesh Sidhwani (films “Dil Chahta Hai”, “Don”, “Zindagi Ma Milegi Dobara”, “Lakshya” , “Honeymoon Travels” etc ) and others.
Highlights of her tenure in Mumbai (1990-’97):
- Peer and student team have been led to winning presentations at prominent musical theaters such as Prithvi, Bhaidas, Rangsharda, NCPA, Sophia Bhabha, Homi Bhabha , the Indian Navy Nagar, the Taj Intercon Ballroom, and other famous arenas of art presentations
- Self and Students performed at top dance concerts in Adult category consecutively from 1990-’93
- Students’ Team won Inter-collegiate Dance Contests, Bombay- 1st place winners awarded by Farah Khan & other imminent celebrity judges
- Best Junior Team Dance for creative choreography at the original “Boogie Woogie Dance Reality Show”, Sony TV India , awarded by actors Javed & Naved Jaffrey & Ravi Behl.
- Team 1st Place winners at High School Dance Contests – Bombay, India 2001 and New Zealand, 2007
- Some of Academy’s Graduates now have their own dance & exercise schools in Mumbai.
- Some graduates toured India & overseas routinely performing with Indi-pop/Bollywood singers like Alisha Chinoy , Suneeta Rao, Sharon Prabhakar & others.
Hightlights as a Performer-Tutor outside India (1998- 2008):
Priya has implemented Bollywood & Indian Dance into mainstream local schools, colleges & gyms as a performing art, introducing the same to people of diverse racial origins. Her artistic bio ranges from dancing for /with celebrities to/for the general public. Her students have often done her proud:
- In the United Arab Emirates, her young students gave cultural presentations at eminent venues such as Creek Park Amphitheater, numerous Dubai Festivals over the years, Dubai World Trade center, Chamber of Commerce Sharjah, Reebok LLC, KFC LLC and many upmarket high-end malls and resorts. Team of teen students were finalists in MTV Junior Dance contest, Dubai Creek Park & Dubai Malls, Dubai UAE
- In New Zealand, her high school student teams performed at major cultural representations at Indian and mainstream events, Diwali Festivals and at the Civic Square Wellington, attended by scores of people from all over the country, and at TAPAC ( New Zealand’s premier Performing Arts Center in Auckland) besides other theatrical expositions. Team High School Lynfield- 1st Place Winners in High School Dance Contest, Auckland New Zealand.
- Self & student team presented a cultural dance at the Parliament in New Zealand in presence of Prime Minister Honorable Helen Clark to foster deeper Indo-NZ relations.
- Self & students presented a cultural dance on the grand occasion of one of the wedding ceremonies of Princess Al Nahyan, of the royal ruling family, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
- In the U.S. from 2009 (Atlanta), and since July 2013 (North Carolina), Priya has conducted several dance /musical presentations for state-operated community and local organizations helping bring her students’ abilities to the fore
A snapshot of prominent events :
- Diwali 2009- Atlanta- Musical Dance show created for Indian Friends’ Meetup Group – Atlanta’s largest South East Asian group of young professionals with over 1000 members, featuring original script & enacting through dance & drama.
- Florida 2010, Indian Beach Holiday Inn : Performance for exclusive private gatherings
- 2009 & 2010 – Greater Vedic Temple, Atlanta , Holi & Diwali Festivals celebratory performances with academy members.
- 2009- performances /training for members of Pujari INC Event Group, Atlanta
- 2009 – Asiaana Banquet Hall, Global Mall, Atlanta in aid of the Atlanta Diabetes Hypertension Center
- 2010: Holiday Inn : Dinner theater for a SE Asian Networking Group in South Georgia.
- 2009: Leading fitness sessions at 5K Walk – Vibha.org at Georgia Tech campus
- 2009-2010 : Regular coaching Classes: held at – Gwinnett County & Duluth Town Recreational Centres, Indian American Cultural Association, and Vedic Temple of Atlanta.
For recent events in Raleigh-Durham, see Events in NC (2013 to date)
- Professionally coached in Auckland and Wellington cities at Community Centers 2003-07, the YMCA, gyms and academic schools , community colleges from 2004-2007
- Workshops for the Auckland Regional Migrant Services and International Women’s Voices Radio station etc. 2006
- Acting in theatre lead roles with Prayas – www.prayas.co.nz – a leading Indo-New Zealand Theater Production Co. at prominent theaters, Auckland 2007
- Presided as judge on panels for college dance competitions.
- Students performances at City of Wellington and Auckland’s prominent nationally attended multi-cultural festivals as well as city-center Christmas parades
- Multicultural Performances for a series of Dubai Shopping Festivals and Dubai Summer Surprises public festivals held each year in the emirate from 1996- 2000
- Reebok U.A E – organized youth fashion & dance shows, 1996-97
- Shows for KFC- U.A.E., Americana at the Global Village, Dubai, 1998
- Staged student shows at The Oasis Center, and other Dubai- mega-malls showcasing children’s fashion & dance extravaganzas, 2000.
- Performances for high profile malls Al Ghurair, Bur Juman, Hamarain, Wafi.
- The Baby Shop clothing chain -series of Fashion Shows 1997 and 2000
- Fashion & Dance shows at Dubai World Trade Center for high profile outfitters : Splash, Giordano and Esprit collections for Planet Youth – a multicultural teenage Fashion Exhibition
- Performances for The Chamber of Commerce Sharjah & Sharjah Airport, 1999-2000
- Coaching at various recreational centers at malls, colleges, academic schools , universities for regular lessons & events 1996-2000
- Performances by students of various high schools in adaptations of famous musicals.
- Judge Panel member for Inter-Collegiate dance festivals at University of Wollongong, Australia, Dubai Campus 2000
India: (Mumbai, 1986-1996):
- Performances for The Indian Navy at the prestigious annual Navy Ball, ’86-90
- Performances for the Taj Group of Hotels, Hotel Taj Mahal Intercontinental, The President and the Oberoi Suites 1986-90, for Hotel SeaRock Sheraton 1986-90, Hotel Holiday Inn at special public events.
- “Boogie Woogie” – India’s Premiere and longest running TV Show Dance Competition on Sony TV : Academy won 1st Place Junior category 1997.
- Bombay’s prestigious and select film industry members’ wedding celebrations; scripted wedding mini-musical for Ritesh Sidhwani- producer of famous film “Dil Chahta Hai” (2001) and for general public.
- Academy won a number of local awards for community service in dance and endorsed by the media and press.
- Children’s theatre productions held at popular auditoria in Mumbai -National TV, Zee TV and Doordarshan, adaptations of famous works/musicals choreography/ performance for Hosi Vasunia Productions, ’90-’93
- Presided as guest speaker at several local community events, schools & colleges, along with celebrities from the film & fashion world.
- Organized several local and community dance extravaganzas, coached at numerous high schools and recreation outreaches alongside own studios in western Mumbai 1986-1996
- Aided fund-raisers for non-profits like Red Cross, Rotary and Lion’s Club, Joggers’ Park Cultural Recreational centers.
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