Pallabi Chakravorty, anthropologist, dancer, choreographer, has studied dance all of her conscious life. She is the founder and artistic director of Courtyard Dancers. Pallabi studied classical Indian dance such as Bharatnatyam and other folk forms from Children's Little Theatre, Kolkata from an early age. She toured India as a student there. Later she was immersed in the study of Kathak dance for two decades. She studied Kathak under the tutelage of Guru Bandana Sen, one of the foremost disciples of the legendary Kathak maestro Shambhu Maharaj and now a legend herself. Pallabi has performed widely and her dance works have been presented in myriad venues in the U.S, Europe, and India. Recipient of many grants and awards both for her artistic and scholarly works, Pallabi received the Rocky's dance award given by Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe in 2006. Pallabi is also an active researcher and scholar and is the author of three books, “Bells of Change: Kathak Dance, Women and Modernity in India”, Performing Ecstasy, and Dance Matters. Pallabi is a full time faculty member in the Department of Music and Dance at Swarthmore College where she teaches Kathak technique and dance anthropology.
Pallabi has worked with professional musicians in India and with musicians in the U.S such as Aqeel Bhatti, Jotham Joel, Lenny Seidman, Abhiman Kaushal, Ralph Denzer, Daniel Scholnick, and Chandan Patra. The rhythms or tala cycles of Indian musical structures are the template for her pedagogical and creative work. She has arranged and created music for all her choreographies.
Romit Shahani, has been provided the right channel with the Courtyard Dancers to engage in community work and satiate his interest in promoting arts, combined with his overactive urge to be organized. Romit managed large scale inter-collegiate events during his engineering undergrad education in Bombay, and recently managing promotional efforts for ‘Unsung Arrivals' from soup to nuts. Romit's day (and night) job is working as sales and marketing consultant and he focuses primarily on the healthcare vertical. Romit has been bitten by the travel bug and has visited Turkey, Costa Rica, Peru, and almost all the top destinations in the US. Romit also dabbles in photography for Courtyard Dancers and otherwise.
Mahasweta has enjoyed dancing and watching Kathak since the age of five. Her early years of Kathak training were under Keka Sinha in Bombay, till the age of fifteen. After a hiatus of ten years she joined Pallabi Chakravorty in Philadelphia in 2009. She started teaching the Courtyard Dancers' Kathak beginners class in 2011. She enjoys imparting what she knows and also continues to learn from her students. Mahasweta is passionate about Kathak and sees it as one of the few dance forms that imbibes strength, grace and a complex history and as a dance form that is constantly evolving. Outside of Kathak dance, she pursues a full-time career in science in clinical research."
Technical Designer and Consultant
Palak Singhee has been dancing all her conscious life. Palak's versatility in various dance forms is one of her biggest strengths, from Bollywood thumkas, to being trained as a Bharat Natyam dancer, to learning Hip Hop and Zumba, Palak has combined all her learning's and has choreographed, danced, and won at multiple intercollegiate events in India and US. Discovering Pallabi in 2010 and getting an opportunity to learn Kathak from the maestro was Palak's turning point. Ever since Kathak, Palak has been focusing her energies towards being a better Kathak dancer and has performed with Courtyard Dancers in almost all of their recent performances. Being trained and employed as an Electrical Engineer, Palak is also a whiz at helping Courtyard Dancers manage through all their technical and marketing aspects.
Diditi Mitra has been learning dance from a young age in Kolkata, India. In the United States, she has continued her training in Kathak with Pallabi Chakravorty. She has also been a student of Janaki Patrik and Satyanarayan Charka. Her love affair with Kathak, and dance in general, has withstood the test of time. Pallabi and Courtyard Dancers have given her the space to continue that relationship. In her other life, she is a Sociologist who is interested in social stratification with a focus on international migration, race and ethnic relations, transnationalism and globalization. She earned my doctoral degree in Sociology from Temple University. Currently, she teaches in the Department of Sociology/ Anthropology at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey.
Naina Roychowdhury likes to think that dance is a delicate balance between perfection and freedom. Hypnotized by Pallabi's performance at a community function, Naina began her tutelage with Pallabi at the tender age of eight. Pallabi taught Naina to think outside the box, and dance within the lines. Over the past fifteen years, Naina has since continued her training in India with some of the world's most renowned Kathak exponents such as Guru Bandana Sen (also Pallabi's guru), Smt. Kumudini Lakhia, Sri Suchandra Banerjee, Sri Sanjay Bhattacharya, Prashant Shah, and Sanjukta Sinha. Naina has performed on Doordarshan television in India and numerous other venues across the United States of America spanning both coasts. Instilled with a strong technical grasp and sensitivity to the history of the art; Naina has herself taught hundreds of students passing along priceless lessons. Currently residing in Pittsburgh, she is the head faculty in the Pittsburgh location of Courtyard Dancers.
Fund Raiser and Legal Consultant
Tejal Mehta has been a member of the Courtyard Dancers and under the tutelage of Pallabi Chakravorty since 2009. Always having a passion for Indian culture and heritage, Tejal had been dancing, performing and later, choreographing, various Indian dance forms including garba and folk, since the age of six. However, it was not until Tejal was introduced to the rich and vast world of Kathak dance by the Courtyard Dancers that she has learned just how spiritually and intellectually profound Indian dance can be. Training and performing in this beautiful art form under Pallabi-ji has truly been life-changing for Tejal and she has learned to push mental and physical boundaries through the art of Kathak. She has been inspired by the Courtyard Dancer's steadfast focus on preserving and carrying forth the Kathak legacy.
Tejal is an attorney, practicing White Collar criminal defense at a large national law firm, based in Philadelphia. She continues to passionately pursue her career in law and in kathak simultaneously.
Indian dance has much to teach the west about expressive use of hands. The most stunning movements involved complex rapid fire hand gestures.
Lisa Kraus, Philadelphia Inquirer