Veteran dance tutor, choreographer, performer, show producer, theatre actor, workshop host, & former dance finalist of India, Priya Chellani, is the founder and the driving force of Indigo.
Her extensive international expertise in dance and choreography, coupled with a dedicated coaching method, developed in the early 90’s, when she worked alongside noteworthy Bollywood choreographers & film personalities in Mumbai such as Farah Khan, Shiamak Davar, successfully conducting an impressive Institute in Mumbai, India. She has been instrumental in honing the creative & fitness aspirations of academy members since these first performing and teaching days in Bombay (Mumbai)- also called the birthplace and origin of “Bollywood”, the cinema and the namesake dance genre.
With a background of concurrent years equally dedicated to fitness, modeling, dance theater, musicals scripting & direction, Priya simultaneously trained in classical Indian dance Katthak under Padmashri Guru Gopikrishna, India.
In the millennium, moving offshore into a global journey into Dubai, New Zealand and then on USA, her subsequent years coaching in a multitude of cultures helped her develop an international flair, adopting a versatile dance repertoire in jazz, hip-hop, Latin dances & rock n roll.
She specializes in providing core Bollywood training to everyday people from all walks of life as well as upcoming artists and children. Cultivated at an early age and mastered hands-on in her growing and professional years in Mumbai, India, she brings rich expertise and knowledge base to the USA. Over 21 years of teaching, has seen her perform more than 500 shows, training over 3000 students, and acquiring over 20,000 hours of teaching experience under her belt.
Since making her home in the United States in 2010, she further certified as a U.S Fitness professional. Within just 24 months of opening the training doors in Raleigh in August 2013, she has led over 50 showcases in the Triangle area alone; her Youtube channel with nearly 300 videos has the largest Bollywood dance database in the Triangle. Her efforts in popularizing the Bollywood genre to a mainstream & diverse American society coupled with her tireless efforts in actively imparting dance & fitness education to local communities, academic institutions, corporate and public rec. centers, and promoting her students at multitude of events, is seeing a growing awareness of Bollywood in the region. Priya also introduced Bollywood Dance for the first time to fitness centers and employee-members of Fortune 500 corporates in the RTP. She is currently employed as CISCO’s and NetApp’s first Bollywood Dance Fitness trainer at the corporate technological giant’s headquarters here. Innovation at the helm, she was also first to bring a highly entertaining Bollywood Interactive type show to the Triangle as well as Bollywood Dance by Senior Citizens (Year 2013, Raleigh)
Priya personally coaches or supervises every class round the year, at all locations. She freely shares of her lifelong passion, and wealth of the cultural evolution of Indian Dance with her students. An experienced tutor, 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.
Mother to a college grad, she is a model of inspiration to many as she teaches by example on both dance & dance fitness.
A 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 years of age, 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 at University of Bombay, she received several inter-college accolades, spear-heading her college performing arts team to compete and win at several high-profile festivals at archaic institutes such as St.Xavier’s College (“Malhar”), Sophia Bhabha Polytechnic (“Sofiesta”), VJTI Powai (Pratibimb) , IIT (Mood Indigo), and other distinguished institutions.
- She attained her dance coaching of Indian classical Katthak and Folk dance styles from Natraj Gopikrishna’s Institute
- An explorer hailing from Mumbai’s western suburb of Bandra, (home to some of today’s top Bollywood stars), she was among the first to experiment aligning 90s popular western dance styles with Indian elements, along with her trailblazing peers.
- Rising from this fountain-head of creativity and talent, Priya founded her busy academy in Mumbai in 1990 , and was among pioneer modern dancers of Bombay, introducing fusion styles that became popular both at her center and numerous recreation centers.
- During this time, she was also among the first to introduce Fusion Dance as a PE activity in western Bombay’s academic schools as well as also 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
- First ever to bring a nationwide live dance contest for children to the public 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.
- Priya is also a talented 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.
- Represent Indian culture at mainstream parades in western shores (New Zealand, year 2004)
- Certified in Aerobics Group Fitness Training , 2008, from the AAAI-ISMA, U.S.A
- CPR, First Aid and AED certified
- Certified in Katthak Classical and Folk Dance from noteworthy maestro of Katthak, Nateshwar Institute Guru Gopikrishna’s 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 regional Indian dialects
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 (1997- date):
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 in the past :
- 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.
- 2008- 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.
- 2008: Leading fitness sessions at 5K Walk – Vibha.org at Georgia Tech campus
- 2008-2010 : Regular coaching Classes: held at – Gwinnett County & Duluth Town Recreational Centres, Indian American Cultural Association, Smyrna, and Vedic Temple of Atlanta.
For recent events in Raleigh-Durham, see Events in NC
- 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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