Jiva Dance

Sonali Skandan & Jiva Dance creates and presents compelling and dynamic works based on the timeless idiom of Bharatanatyam, the classical dance form of South India. Jiva Dance sees the importance of preserving and promoting the traditional arts, yet also understands the need to incorporate innovative techniques to reach diverse audiences. At an intersection of dance, music, literature, philosophy, sculpture and spirituality, the Company sees Indian Classical dance as a holistic art form and holds the belief that tradition is a continuum of evolution and hopes to invigorate classical works with a freshness and unique voice.

Sonali Skandan & Jiva Dance is the professional dance company of Jiva Performing Arts, an organization based in NYC, which seeks to educate and present the classical music and dance of India. Jiva Dance began in 2008 under the artistic direction of Sonali Skandan. The company has presented at notable venues such as Columbia University, Manhattanville College, Queens College, Elmira College and the Indian Consulate in NYC to tremendous audience acclaim. Sonali Skandan & Jiva Dance recently presented their debut evening-length production "Swarupa: Infinite Form" at the 2011 NYC International Fringe Festival to much critical acclaim, and was heralded as "a company to watch" by press.

The company comprises exceptionally talented dancers under the guidance of Sonali Skandan, an accomplished dancer and student of some of the greatest masters of classical dance. The dancers are all rigorously trained in the tradition and are also versatile in their approach. We are devoted to the legacy of the art as passed on by traditional Gurus and Masters and share in the desire to pass our love of the form on to world audiences.

The repertoire ranges form solo highly traditional works to more versatile group items which highlight the evolving nature of the dance form. We strive to uphold the traditions, yet have a forward-looking attitude towards the art. We strive to create and reenergize classical pieces and incorporate innovative light design and multimedia such as photography, film and poetry to give the pieces clarity and meaning for a global audience. We firmly believe that classical works, as passed down from a great legacy, have a place in the modern society and are as relevant today as they were many years ago.


Company Members

Kuamri Mayshark Patel Kumari has been dancing with Jiva Dance for the past year and a half. She began her Bharatanatyam dance journey at the tender age of three under the guidance of her sister, Anapayini Jakupko. Since then, she has received years of rigorous training in Chennai, South India under her Guru, Srimati Indira Kadambi. Kumari taught and performed with the Bhakti Kalalayam dance academy in Florida for ten years before moving to New York four years ago. Kumari has performed extensively on tours across Canada and the US as well as Mexico, Panama, England, Poland and India. Kumari is the 2016 recipient of the Vazhavoor Ramaiah Pillai Grand Prize from the Cleveland Tyagaraja Bharatanatyam Competition. Kumari dances because it is not only her passion, but it is her expression of devotion and a profound spiritual offering. She currently lives in Brooklyn and studies linguistics and speech pathology.

Maya Kappil Maya started her formal training in Bharatanatyam in 2007 under the tutelage of Sonali Skandan. While continuing her studies with Sonali, Maya has also participated in workshops conducted by Prof. CV Chandrasekhar, Smt. Manjari Chandrasekhar, Smt. Priyadarshini Govind and Smt. Bragha Bessell. Performances as part of Jiva Dance include the Manhattanville Marymount College, 92Y Fridays at noon series Fridays Retro, New York International Fringe Festival, Living Dance Festival, Erasing Borders Festival of Indian Dance, Sun to Stars Festival of Music, Dance & Culture, Elmira College, Fashion Institute of Technology, Stephen Austin University, Chen Dance Center and NBC's Red Nose Danceathon among others. Maya is currently working as a post-doctoral fellow at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Njideka Emenogu Njideka Avesta Emenogu started studying Bharatanatyam under Padmarani Rasiah and the internationally acclaimed dancers, V.P. and Shanta Dhananjayan, and had her formal debut at the age of sixteen. A student of Skandan and a company dancer for Jiva Dance, she has taken intensive workshops conducted by Professor CV Chandrasekar, Smt. Manjari Chandrasekar, and Smt. Bragha Bessell. Emenogu has performed at many venues; just to name a few: the Indian Consulate, the Prestigious 92Y, the 2011International Fringe Festival, Drumming a Dream, by Preeti Vasudevan at Lincoln Center, Elmira College, Queens Museum. She has been part of Jiva Dance's original productions Swarupa Infinite Form and Mayura: Blue Peacock which have been presented nationwide. As a solo artist, she has taught workshops and performed at various dance festivals.

Poulomi Das Born and raised in NYC, Poulomi Das is a 20 year old college student studying to become a medical professional. Despite her busy school and work schedule, she still finds time to teach and learn Indian Classical dance. Poulomi started her training at the age of 4, and has been studying with Sonali Skandan, since 2010. As a company member of Jiva Dance, she has participated in the 2015 NBC Red