Akademi at 40 | 40 under 40

To mark the occasion of our 40th anniversary, Akademi have released a list of 40 under 40 South Asian dance artists to look out for in the UK. Of course, there are so many fantastic and promising dancers out there. Since there are too many to mention, on this occasion we have chosen 40 artists close to Akademi, to resonate with the theme of 40 years. We have also released a series of lists celebrating the people who have shaped Akademi over the years.

This list has been compiled by the current staff and trustees of Akademi.

Abirami Easwar

Abirami is a Kathak dancer and teacher based in London. Over the past 10 years, Abirami has been taught the nuances of traditional Lucknow Kathak Gharana by her Guru, Padmashri Pratap Pawar(MBE). Working as a solo artist and leading classes across England, Abirami strives to push her creative boundaries whilst remaining true to her roots.

Aishani Ghosh

Aishani begun training in Bharatnatyam with Smt Chitraleka Bolar, as well as ballet, at the age of four. Aishani has attended both Yuva Gati and Contemporary CAT programmes at DanceXchange, being the only dancer to do, and was a category finalist on BBC Young Dancer. She is training at London Contemporary Dance School.

Anaya Bolar

Anaya is a student at Coventry University studying Sports Therapy. She has trained in Bharatanatyam since the age of 5 under her mother, Guru Chitraleka Bolar. Anaya was a finalist in the South Asian category of BBC Young Dancer 2015 and won an ISTD bursary award.

Anekha Pillai

Anekha’s training began with Upahaar in 2003 with Guru Smt Shalini Shivashankar. She had completed her arangetram in 2015 and has been graced with many performance opportunities since. Anekha studies BA Dance at Kingston University where she wishes to become a versatile performer and explore dance beyond a career.

Anusha Jagannathan

Anusha Jagannathan started dancing at the age of 7 and went on to do her Arangetram and dance teacher training in 2005 under Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan. Since then, she has performed, taught Bharatanatyam, conducted workshops, organized flash mobs to raise awareness about social issues, worked with nonprofits, hospital and schools promoting Indian classical dance.


Anvi is a multidisciplinary talent working across dance/choreography, visual arts, film and literature. As a National award-winning Bharatanatyam soloist, she has been performing extensively since 16 years. She is acclaimed for her individualistic creativity, mesmerizing grace, and expressive prowess. Her unique independent film company MID LIGHT Productions creates dance/art films.

Archana Ballal

Archana is a Bharatanatyam and Contemporary dancer who has toured nationally and internationally performing with dance companies, she also teachs on the Centre for Advanced Training Bharatanatyam programme. Archana is motivated by the importance of body-mind connections and works as a Registered Dance Movement Psychotherapist with young people in prisons and those leaving local authority care.

Daniella Zak Zara Varghese

Daniella Zak Varghese is a Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam dancer training under her Guru Shalini Shivashankar. She completed her Arangetram in both styles in 2019. Daniella is a graduate from CADT Yuva Gati and has won several awards, including 1st prize at Yuva 2015. In 2018, she selected to be a dancer in the Natya Project.

Elena Catalano

Nritya Yuva Awardee 2017, Elena has trained in Odissi under Sujata Mohapatra, Madhavi Mudghal and artists of Nrityagram. Elena is core member of the Odissi Ensemble and ReRooted Dance Collective, creating new work, with the support of Arts Council of England. She holds a PhD in Dance from Durham University and is Senior Lecturer at Kingston University of London.

Emiko Ishii

Emiko Jane Ishii is a British born Japanese dancer, choreographer, actress, instructor with 16 years of professional dance experience. She is the Creative Director of Epika Dance Troupe. Her training in different disciplines ranging from Hiphop, Nihon Buyo, Bollywood, Kathak to Martial Arts, has allowed Emiko to evolve a unique style and perspective in movement.

Hiten Mistry

Hiten is a Bharatanatyam dancer, teacher, choreographer and an enthusiastic facilitator, working in education, health and community settings. His teaching focuses on technique, body conditioning and dance history. As a choreographer he explores the versatility of Bharatanatyam form, yet maintains its integrity. He is the Artistic Director of East Midlands company Bharata Natyam Leicester.

Jaina Modasia

Jaina is an up and coming Kathak dancer who has been dancing since the age of 4. She has completed the ISTD syllabus, training with Sujata Banerjee, and was twice category finalist for BBC Young Dancer. In 2017 Jaina was a Navadal winner (17-25yrs, solo).

Jaivant Patel

Jaivant Patel is an award-winning independent dance artist, choreographer and cultural producer. He makes work that ‘challenges the complexities, inherited notions, perceptions and stereotypes surround British Asian identity’. He is currently touring a production entitled YAATRA, a bill of Kathak and contemporary dance exploring the rich possibilities rooted in South Asian LGBTQ+ narratives.

Kamala Devam

Kamala Devam trained in Bharatanatyam for 13 years under the Kunhiramans in Northern California and received her BA in dance at San Francisco State University. Performing credits include: Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, Akram Khan Company, ENO, Akademi, etc; Lecturing includes UEL and Surrey University. Kamala Devam Company was founded in 2016, touring and educating internationally.

Katie Ryan

Katie Ryan is a dancer, choreographer and founding member of Odissi Ensemble. A graduate of London Contemporary Dance School, she has trained with Odissi exponents in the UK and India including Sanjeevini Dutta, Shankar Behera, and Madhavi Mudgal. Akademi have supported Katie’s choreographic development, including the 2017 Marion North Mentoring Award (Bonnie Bird Choreography Fund).

Kesha Raithatha

Kesha is a dancer and choreographer who embodies Kathak and Contemporary movement. She creates work that is rich in detail and experimentally reconsiders contemporary South Asian dance. Her curiousity and exposure to alternative movement training informs and invigorates her dance-making vocabulary. Kesha trains and freelances between India and the UK.

Meera Patel

Meera is a kathak dance artist. Previously training at CICD in Leicester, she currently trains and teaches at Pagrav Dance Company (PDC). She performs regularly with PDC and as an independent artist. Meera’s recent work includes performer in PDC’s ‘Kattam Katti’, choreographer/performer in ReRooted Dance Collective’s ‘Transformation of the Line’ and residency at Chisenhale Dance Space.

Mira Salat

Born in London, Mira is a performer and teacher trained in the three major gharanas of Kathak by Abhay Shanker Mishra-ji, Smt. Kumudini Lakhiaji and Pandit Birju Maharaji. With 18 years of training, Mira has her own stance on dancing whilst still keeping traditional value at the forefront of her own teaching.

Mithun Gill

Mithun Gill is a Kathak dancer with contemporary training as part of his dance degree. Having trained in both styles, Mithun has a unique performance quality. A sense of rhythm and musicality from Kathak and a wider movement vocabulary from contemporary has allowed his body to find its own style of moving.

Pallavi Anand

Pallavi Anand is a Bharatanatyam dancer training under her Guru Shalini Shivashankar. She further trains at Bharata Kalanjali in Chennai run by Natyacharyas, the Dhananjayans, as well as with Smt. Bragha Bessel and Smt. Divya Shiva Sundar. She also learns Mohiniattam, which complements her style creating a balance between strength and grace.

Parbati Chaudhury

Parbati is a London-born and based maker-performer-teacher, training with Urja Desai Thakore of Pagrav. Current projects include: Goodgirl (supported by Kala Sangam), Acts in Alchemy (Pagrav and Space Clarence Mews) and Fader, which will feature at Resolution 2020 ( The Place). Parbati is a founding member of ReRooted Dance Collective. She regularly performs with Pagrav, Akademi and Kadam.

Payal Ramchandani

Payal is a Kuchipudi dancer and choreographer with a strong foundation laid by 27 years of rigorous training. She has built her unique vocabulary, evident in her creations. With many awards under her belt, she has propagated the dance form across the globe through her meaningful and innovative work.

Pracheeti Dange

A leading dancer of the present generation, Pracheeti Dange is an award-winning and internationally acclaimed Odissi dancer from India, now based in London. With more than 15 years of experience, she has performed at many prestigious venues and festivals. Pracheeti has established her academy to carry forward Odissi’s rich tradition.

Pranav Yajnik

Pranav has built a solid grounding in kathak for over 15 years, having trained first at the Bhavan and then under Urja Desai Thakore, as well as at workshops in the UK and India. He continues to refine his practice and understanding of kathak, including through teaching. He lives in London and works full-time as a lawyer.

Raheem Mir

Having being recognised for his performance and academia, the idea of Gender within a Dancer and their form is a key aspect that Raheem has explored within both professional and academic fields. He believes that boundaries are there to be pushed and questions are there to be asked.

Saloni Saraf

Saloni Saraf is a Kathak dancer based in London. She has learnt from Gauri Sharma Tripathi and is currently training under Sujata Banerjee. Saloni has performed internationally including The British Museum, The Royal Festival Hall, the Ravi Shankar Centre, Stockholm Cultural Festival and Wembley Stadium.

Seema Chopra-De Jorge

Seema holds an MSc Dance Science from The Trinity Conservatoire of Music and Dance and is a Research Supervisor using scientific research to cultivate long term health and wellbeing. She is the founder of the South Asian Medicine and Science Association, a personal trainer and mother of one. Seema trained in kathak with Guru Abhay Shankar Mishra.

Seetal Kaur Dhadyalla

Seetal combines her love of rhythm with swift movement and expression. Following training in Bharatanatyam, she begun learning Kathak with Amina Khayyam in 2012, later touring in her production ‘Yerma’. Seetal continues to develop her Kathak practice under Smt. Aditi Sen and in intensive periods with Guru Pandit Rajendra Gangani.

Shivaangee Agrawal

Shivaangee has trained in Bharatanatyam in London and Bangalore and completed studies in contemporary dance at Trinity Laban. She is most concerned with developing a creative practice that embraces both these approaches to movement and is currently busy with performance, choreography and research. Visit shivaangee.com to get in touch.

Shree Savani

Shree is a 21 year old Bharatantyam dancer and physiotherapy student. Her passion for dance, engaging with people artistically and her interest in physical movement drive her enthusiasm for both dance and physiotherapy. Her recent success in BBC Young Dancer 2019 has fueled her ambition to develop as a dancer.

Shyam Dattani

Shyam has been training in Kathak since the age of 2 and is currently under the guidance of Urja Desai Thakore. In 2017 he was the winner of BBC Young Dancer’s South Asian category and came second in the Kalashram Kathak Contest, European Leg. He hopes to take up dance professionally post-graduation from Cass Business School.

Sivahami Sivashankar

Sivahami is a Bharatanatyam dancer, learning under Guru Shri Prakash Yaddagude at The Bhavan. She gave her debut dance performance in 2017 and has since had opportunities to perform on a variety of platforms. Sivahami trains in Carnatic Vocal under Smt Sivasakthi Sivanesan. She is currently studying Mathematics at university.

Sonia Chandaria

Growing up, Sonia pursued ballet, Indian folk dance and competitive ballroom dancing before commencing formal Kathak training with Guru Sujata Banerjee in 2010. Her undergraduate dissertation at the University of Oxford explored “Why have humans continued to dance”. Accountant by head, dancer by heart, Sonia runs her own dance company and is a trustee for UK Young Artists.

Sooraj Subramaniam

Sooraj is a versatile artist trained in Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kathak, classical ballet and contemporary dance. He has toured extensively with Srishti, Balbir Singh Dance Company, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance and Akademi. Sooraj continues to freelance, working with companies and independent choreographers as well and touring his own work.

Subhash Viman

Subhash is a British choreographer and dancer. Shifting between Indian classical, urban and contemporary dance, he combines seamless movement with provocative humour, giving his work an unorthodox and quirky edge. Floor work, swift spins, gesture and expression are characteristic of his movement vocabulary and choreographic work. Subhash trained in Bharatanatyam and Kathak in both UK and India.

Suhani Dhanki

A disciple of Guru Dr. Sandhya Purecha training in Bharatanatyam, she is a gold-medalist in the Master of Arts – Dance degree, graded artist of Doordarshan Mumbai and Govt. of India Scholarship recipient now settled in the UK. She is a promising performer, compiles Akademi’s #WednesdayWisdom Series and is an established Actor.

Sundaresan Ramesh

Sundaresan has been under the tutelage of Pushkala Gopal and Shruti Sriram since 2004. He is a graduate of the Centre of Advanced training in Dancexchange. He is also an alumnus of the National Youth Dance Company and he was a category finalist in the BBC Young Dancer Competition 2019.

Swati Seshadri

Swati is a Bharatanatyam dancer and Carnatic vocalist. She is one of a handful of emerging artists in the UK adept at both dance and music, her key strengths are her musicality, expressiveness and rhythmic exploration. Her work includes Akademi’s Nivedin, a solo Bharatanatyam performance with a live orchestra. She is a member of Rerooted Dance Collective.

Uma Venkataraman

Uma started dancing at the age of 6, initially under the tutelage of Mark Hatton, and later with her Gurus, Pushkala Gopal and Mavin Khoo. An award-winning international dancer, her love for Bharatanatyam has developed into a profound passion that continues to take her on a deeply spiritual journey.

Vidya Patel

Vidya Patel is a Kathak dance artist based in Birmingham. Since representing the South Asian category in the Grand Finals of BBC Young Dancer 2015, she has worked on a range of projects, touring nationally and internationally in critically acclaimed productions. She continues training in Kathak with Guru Sujata Banerjee, and is currently an Associate Artist at Deda Derby.

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