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Artistic Directors


AR Bala Skandan ::

A.R. Bala Skandan is a performer, teacher and composer in Carnatic Violin and South Indian Percussion (Mridangam, Kanjira and Konnakkol). As a Mridangist, he belongs to the school of Sruthilaya of Sri Karaikudi R. Mani of Chennai, where he has received advanced training from Guru Karaikudi Mani. As a Carnatic Violinist, he initially trained under Sri Sarweswara Sarma and obtained his Teaching Diploma. He has been under the guidance of Smt. T. Rukmini of Chennai since 2000. He has also received advanced training in Carnatic Vocal from Sri Seethrama Sharma and in general Percussion Techniques from Prof. T. V. Gopalakrishnan

Bala Skandan has accompanied established international artists such as Sri O. S. Thyagarajan, Prof. T. V. Gopalakrishnan, Sri T. K. Govinda Rao, Smt. Sankari Krishnan, Sri Maharajapuram Srinivasan, and the Carnatica Brothers among others. He has also accompanied senior Bharatanatyam dancers from both India and the US. He has been performing for over 20 years in prestigious venues around the world including India, Europe and North America. Performance credits include the Lincoln Center, NY, the Lighthouse International Theatre in NY and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. He also has several large music and dance productions to his credit, including “Urban Kutcheri,” which premiered at the Joyce/SoHo in June 2006, “Pallavi: Exchange of Ideas between Western and Indian Classical Traditions over the Century” presented in London, “Innovation and Inspiration: A Rhythmic Project to Encourage Creativity Among Young Musicians” in London, as well as the dance dramas “Mother Theresa” and “Kastur Bhai” in Canada. Bala Skandan is a featured musician on several music recordings. He is also a recognized composer of rhythmic segments, known as Jathis, in Carnatic music. He is the founder and lead artist of “Akshara,” a percussion ensemble based in New York.

Balaskandan has worked in the development of organizations promoting South Indian music and dance in Canada and in the UK. He co-founded SIMDA, a promotional organization, in Toronto, Canada. He was a founding member and trustee of Sruthi Laya Seva (UK) Trust, an educational and promotional organization under the auspices of Guru Karaikudi R Mani.


Sonali Skandan ::

Sonali is a devoted and passionate disciple of Bharatanatyam and is under the guidance of the renowned dancer and teacher, Professor CV Chandrasekhar of Chennai, India. She also studies Abhinayam (the art of expression) with Smt. Bragha Bessell of Chennai, India. Prior to that, she trained extensively under Smt. Thejeswni Raj. Sonali has furthered her training in dance by studying Carnatic music, South Indian vocal percussion (mridangam) and yoga. Sonali has also trained in western dance forms since a young age.

Sonali has performed regularly at venues all over the US, Canada and India including the American Museum of Natural History, Clark Studio at Lincoln Center, Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, Merce Cunningham Dance Studio, the Queens Museum of Art, the Hindu Temple Society of North America, the New York City Mayor’s Office. Notable Festivals include the Chennai Music and Dance Festival, the Natyanjali Dance Festivals, American Dance Guild Festival, the fFida International Dance Festival 2005 in Toronto and the Tradewinds Asian American Festival 2005 in San Francisco. Sonali also participated in the World Sacred Dance Festival 2002 in Los Angeles, CA. Sonali has been actively producing and presenting evening-length Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music productions in the US, including Urban Kutcheri (Joyce/Soho 2006, CMAC 2007) as well as full solo margam concerts. Sonali has also danced with Rajika Puri & Dancers at the Joyce/SoHo (2007). She recently staretd her professional dance troupe, Jiva Dance, which presents compelling works of Bharatanatyam.

A core component of Sonali’s work involves education. Sonali holds a Masters degree in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and has been instrumental in starting up an arts education high school in Manhattan. She uses her experience in teaching to develop engaging and enriching lecture demonstrations and workshops for professional dancers, students and teachers. Sonali is on the dance faculty of Sarah Lawrence College and started to teach Baratanatyam to dance majors in the Spring 2010 semester.

The Board

Ramya Narayanan - President

Ramya Narayanan is Vice President and General Manager Credit Card Product Management at American Express OPEN. OPEN is American Express’s business unit dedicated exclusively to supporting small business owners and is the leading card issuer to this segment. Ramya assumed this position in April 2012 and is responsible for development and marketing of OPEN’s Proprietary Lending credit cards as well as Co-Brand credit cards (Delta, Starwood, Costco and Lowe’s). Ramya is on the board of Jiva Performing Arts, a NYC-based Indian classical dance (Bharatanatyam) and Carnatic music organization. Ramya has an MBA from Cornell University, a MS in Industrial Engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BE in Industrial Engineering from Anna University, Chennai, India. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Giri Devulapally - President

Giri Devulapally, CFA, is a portfolio manager at J.P. Morgan Asset Management where he is responsible for managing the large cap growth portfolio. Previously, he has worked for T. Rowe Price for six years, where he was an analyst specializing in technology and telecommunications. Giri received his M.B.A. in Finance at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.

Supriya Ramamurthy - Treasurer

Supriya Ramamurthy is a Senior Vice President at Citigroup New York. She has been a banker with Citi for over 16 years in several roles in New York and Sydney Australia. She is a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management in Sydney Australia and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. She also holds bachelors degrees in Commerce (B.Com) and Law (LLB) from Gujarat University, Ahmedabad. Supriya lives in Manhattan New York with her husband Shanker Ramamuthy and two daughters. She is actively involved with Maina Foundation, an organization that focuses on raising awareness of Breast Cancer and the Chinmaya Mission NY. She enjoys Indian Classical music, cooking and reading and is a member of a monthly non fiction book club that discusses current events and international affairs.

Annu Warikoo - Secretary

Annu is a Risk Management professional with significant experience in leading multi-phase, multi-platform projects with global teams, in Financial firms. Her areas of expertise are in Technology Risk, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, Regulatory Response for Technology and Business Process operationalization for the Enterprise. Since February 2012, Annu has been with Millennium Partners, an alternative investments firm with offices globally, in the role of Global Head of Business Continuity. Annu has an MBA from Baruch College C.U.N.Y and a BA in Computer Science from Queens College, C.U.N.Y. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Both her children are enrolled in local Public Schools and she is an active member of the Parents Association Executive Board for both schools. She actively participates in organizational aspects of the Yorkville Softball League for Girls where her daughter has been playing for many years. She is the Secretary of the Jiva Performing Arts Board. Her interests are reading fiction, listening to world music, downhill skiing and cooking.

Piyali Kothari - Gala Chair

Piyali Kothari was a Bharatanatyam dancer all through her childhood growing up in Chennai, India, the Bharatanatyam center of the world, and continues to have a keen interest in it today. She holds Bachelors degrees in Economics from Stella Maris College, Chennai, India and from New York University. She was an analyst at Goldman Sachs Equities and Goldman Sachs Asset Management, New York, for many years and then proceeded to be the Director of Business Development at Deepbridge Content Solutions, New York.
Piyali lives in Manhattan with her husband, Nakul Krishnaswamy and two children. She is the admissions liaison for the Gateway School of New York, a specialized school for kids with learning disabilities. She enjoys Indian classical dancing and music, reading, travel and jewelry design.

Ami Jain - Gala Chair

Ami Jain brings to Jiva a deep commitment to the preservation and expansion of classical performing arts in the New York City area. She is a yoga teacher who has taught adults and children for over 11 years and has also studied Bharatanatyam as a young adult. She was the co-chair of Jiva’s first Gala in 2013 and has strong experience in fund-raising for non-profit organizations such as Sakhi for South Asian Women and All Souls School. Prior to becoming a student and teacher of yoga, Ami worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago for two years in financial risk assessment for regional banks. She then focused on lending to Fortune 50 companies at National Westminster Bank for three years in the Chicago and New York offices. Ami received her B.A. from The University of Michigan in Economics and French.

Shruti Ramachandran

Shruti Ramachandran is a dance student of Jiva and has been learning under the tutelage of Sonali Skandan since 2011. Originally trained by Smt. Radha Ganesan at the Natya Nilayam School in Maryland, Shruti spent 12 years learning the Rajarjeswari style and performed her arangetram in 1999. In the summer of 2001, she had the esteemed privilege of being one of the principal dancers in “Creeda”, a production directed by Shri C.V. Chandrasekhar. This marked her introduction to the world of Kalakshetra. Since joining Jiva, Shruti has worked closely with Sonali in further learning and mastering the Kalakshetra sytle of bharatanatyam. As a Jiva board member, Shruti provides the student’s perspective to strengthening dance education and plays a supportive role with respect to various events and performances.

Deepica Warikoo - Legal Counsel

Deepica Capoor Warikoo is an attorney in New York specializing in intellectual property law. Her practice focuses primarily on intellectual property prosecution, litigation and transactional matters and contract law. She is also a published author in the field of intellectual property. She received her Masters in Law (L.L.M.) in Intellectual Property from Cardozo Law School, Yeshiva University where she received the honor of “Distinguished Performance in the L.L.M. Program.” She received her Bachelors in Law from ILS Law College, Pune, India.

Cristina Jasen - Director of Marketing & Development


Cristina Jasen was hired by Jiva in March 2015. As a dance artist in NYC, Cristina produced and presented choreographic work for eight years with funding and support from organizations such as Brooklyn Arts Council and New York Foundation for the Arts. Cristina was an artist-in-residence in Normandy, France in 2014. In addition to her work at Jiva, she is currently a youth educator and advisor in Brooklyn for the social service organization, Center for Family Life. Cristina is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

Cristina Jasen – Director of Marketing & Development


Cristina Jasen was hired by Jiva in March 2015. As a dance artist in NYC, Cristina produced and presented choreographic work for eight years with funding and support from organizations such as Brooklyn Arts Council and New York Foundation for the Arts. Cristina was an artist-in-residence in Normandy, France in 2014. In addition to her work at Jiva, she is currently a youth educator and advisor in Brooklyn for the social service organization, Center for Family Life. Cristina is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

Mridangam & Carnatic Violin

Carnatic Violin and Mridangam are offered in the NYC area. Bala Skandan is a highly accomplished and giving teacher. His teachings reflect the rigorous and detailed approach inherent in the music, with a focus on the subtleties of Carnatic music. His teaching focuses on the individual strengths and abilities of each student. His students have won many Carnatic music competitions in the US and continue to perform throughout the US.

Violin & Mridangam in Manhattan, NY – Fridays
Violin & Mridangam in Westchester, NY – Sundays
Violin & Mridangam in Queens, NY – Sundays

For more information contact Bala Skandan | |


Bharatanatyam classes are offered to students of all ages and levels. Sonali brings to her classroom years of experience working in educational environments. Sonali’s teaching is hallmarked by sincerity to pass on what she has learned from her Gurus in a traditional manner, yet with an eye for innovative methodologies. Classes focus on holistic learning – incorporating both practical and theoretical training. Each class begins with a series of yoga asanas and conditioning exercises to prepare the body and mind for practice. Classes are conducted in group and private settings. Often more serious students will combine a group class with a private class weekly.

All students have the opportunity to showcase their learning at our annual student recital, Vidyanjali, held in the spring. The highlight of the show is dance accompanied by a live Carnatic orchestra. The show is a much-anticipated event, where the dancers’ performance skills, musical skills, and dance skills are honed.

Winter/Spring 2020
The semester begins January 13, 2020 and ends on June 11, 2020
No classes on MLK Day (1/20), Presidents Day (2/17), Memorial Day (5/25) – makeup class will be scheduled

Classes are at

Lucid Body House – 230 Lexington Avenue (between 33rd and 34th Street), NYC 10016



Mondays: 6:30-7:30 – Adult Beginner
Tuesdays: 6:30-8:00 – Intermediate/Advanced Repertoire @Lucid


Mondays: 5:00PM-6:00PM  – Kids Beginner (advanced kids stay extra half hour)
Tuesdays: 5:00PM-6:30PM – Teens
Thursdays:4:30PM-6:00PM – Kids intermediate


Wedensdays: 3:30-4:30 PM at 450 9th Street, Brooklyn, NYC


Please email us for the level and times

PRIVATE CLASSES are also available for students at a certain level.

Please see the Class FAQs for more details.

For more information, please email:

Mridangam & Carnatic Violin

Violin & Mridangam in Westchester, NY – Saturdays
Violin & Mridangam in Queens, NY – Sundays
Violin & Mridangam in Manhattan, NY – Saturdays

for more information contact AR Balaskandan |


Carnatic Music

There are two main genres of classical music traditions that developed in India over many centuries; Hindustani music, which is prevalent in the northern parts of the country, and Carnatic music, which is more common in the south. Although there are some distinguishable differences, both traditions have much in common such as r_gas (melodic scales) and t_las (rhythmic cycles).

Carnatic music is considered to be one of the oldest classical traditions in the world. It possesses an intricate melodic structure of ragas and a highly complex rhythmic system of talas. The three most influential composers – Saint Thyagarajah, Shyamashastri and Muthuswami Dikshitar – also known as the trinity, contributed immensely to this art form and their compositions remain popular to this date.

Carnatic music allows for elaborate improvisations in various modes. Raga alapana, the main form, is a pure melodic improvisation. Tanam is a melodic improvisation with a rhythmic pulsation. Neraval means improvised melodic variations of a certain passage in a song whilst maintaining the verse. Kalpana Swara is improvisation using notes.

For a full class schedule go to: Music Classes



Dance is one of the most ancient means of spiritual expression in India. Bharatanatyam, the classical dance form of South India, embodies music, dance, drama, poetry and mythology to create a complete and highly stylized artistic endeavor. The end result creates Rasa, which is the aesthetic emotion that ultimately transforms the viewer.

Bharatanatyam dates back to approximately the 5th century A.D. The word ‘Bharata’ is believed to derive from three main components: Bhava, emotion; Raga, melody; and Tala, rhythm. For the most part, this dance is a solo art form, historically performed in Hindu temples as a means of worship and devotion. The dancer draws from Hindu epics and mythology to create stories that are universally relevant.

Much of Indian dance and theatre is codified in an ancient treatise called the Natya Shastra, written by Sage Bharata. According to the Natya Shastra, classical dance has two distinct divisions: nrtta, or pure dance characterized by symmetry of line and movement, and abhinayam, or expressional dance, where the dancer, through stylized gestures, facial expressions, conveys emotions. The nrtta is notable for its complex rhythmic footwork, which includes striking of the feet, leaps, twirls, and geometric patterns created by the entire body. Much of the abhinayam of Bharatanatyam depicts the state of anticipation between the dancer/devotee and her desire for union with her lord/lover. The dance is incomplete without the music, which is the South Indian classical form known as Carnatic music.

For a full class schedule go to:  Dance Classes


Ragas and Rhythm for Dancers

A course for dance students to introduce the concepts of Carnatic Raga (melody) and Tala (rhythm). The understanding of Carnatic music is essential for any Bharatanatyam dancer in order to internalize the rhythms and melodic complexities inherent in the music compositions for dance. This course is designed to gently introduce the dancer to the main concepts of Carnatic rhythm and melody through verbal demonstrations, discussions and practice. The goal is to strengthen the skills which will allow the dancer to become fully aware of the music they dance to, to become better and more aware artists and students, and to eventually acquire the skills necessary for teaching and creating their own work.

For more information contact