Artistic Director and Instructor: Mohana Narayan
Mohana Narayan has trained from a very young age under the able guidance of her mother and teacher Guru Smt. Usha Narayan, who is a renowned dancer and AIR A grade artiste from New Delhi. Smt. Usha Narayan, who has learned with stalwarts such as Smt. Swarna Saraswathi, Smt. Yamini Krishnamoorthy, Guru Nana Kasar, Guru Kittappa Pillai and Smt. Kalanidhi Narayanan, has passed down a deeply ingrained sense of aesthetic values and awareness of clean lines and angles of movement and a natural gift for heart-felt abhinaya or expression. Mohana has performed from a very young age along with her mother in many performances and dance productions all over India and abroad. She has assisted in training young students for over 20 years now. Mohana enjoys teaching dance as well as formulating unique choreographies. She has presented various thematic productions over the years including recent ones such as Navavidha Sambandham, Andaal Anubhavam, Sri Ramanuja Vaibhavam, Nruttya Nikshepa Atma Nikshepa training hundreds of students for these large productions with a creative flair founded on pain-staking attention to detail. Mohana trains students of various age groups with an eye for detail and focus on one-on-one attention promoting individual strengths. With a masters from Stanford University and a background in Computer Science Engineering prior to 2008, Mohana spent the early part her career focused on product management in the IT company world. As the founder of SarvaGuna, which has since 2008 conducted many workshops, classes, and student performances, she has worked with students of various age groups and enjoys bringing out the best in each individual. Mohana's forte is understanding, utilizing and enhancing stage dynamics's whether it be in solo or group performances as well as to seek out the divine, magical element in literary compositions. While her primary training in classical dance has been from her mother Guru Usha Narayan in the Pandanallur style, she has also trained with other instructors and Gurus of the Tanjavur, Kalakshetra and Vazhuvoor styles such as Dr. Padmaja Suresh (Rajarajeshwari Kalyanasundaram disciple), Shanmugha Sundaram (Sarasalaya K.J. Sarasa disciple), Smt Rama Vaidyanathan, Smt Leela Samson, Smt Indira Kadambi and others. She continues to train and learn from senior Gurus at every possible opportunity. She incorporates the most dynamic of these aspects in her own choreographies. In addition, she continues to train post-arangetram students in new items for a second margam to advance their skills and finesse in this beautiful artform.
Senior Director and Instructor: Usha Narayan
Usha Narayan, a senior bharatanatyam guru is a senior artist from India and has been training students in Bharatanatyam in the Bay area since 2001. Usha trains students for Arangetram, she offers workshops, classes, lecdems, presentation of productions, and performances by students.
As the founder of Sri Nrittya Kala Samskritam dance institute in 1980 at New Delhi, she imparted immaculate Bharatanatyam to her students there and proudly presented their Arangetrams. Usha Narayan was trained in both the Pandanallur and Tanjore styles of Bharatanatyam by great maestros such as Guru Kittappa Pillai and Guru Chokkalingam Pillai and later by his leading disciple Guru Nana Kasar. She has been also trained by veterans of abhinaya in their detailed abhinaya technique of Bharatanatyam such as Smt Swarna Saraswathi and Smt.Kalanidhi Narayanan. Usha is also certified in Early Childhood Development and has been instrumental in developing curriculum in Performing Arts for N.C.E.R.T in India. She has also been a teacher and head of Performing Arts department in a leading school (Vasant Valley School) in New Delhi for many years. She was also awarded the titles of "Deivika Natyamani" (Divine Dancing Jewel) and "Sri Nritya Choodamani" by leading cultural organizations in India.
1980 - Research Fellowship, Sangeet Natak Academy, Govt. of India
1985 - KALA RANJANI AWARD- a title 'DEIVIKA NATYA MANI', Chennai/India
A-Top Grade Artist.Prasar Bharati Doordharshan (National TV) Govt. of India
1991 - Recognition in Indian 'Limca Book of Records'
2000 - Senior Research Fellowship, Govt. of India, Department of Culture
2005 - LIFE TIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, SFO California; Youth Utsav Fest. Judges Award
Expressive Abhinaya in Temple Dance
Saragrahi, The Indian Express
"Usha displayed her mettle as a brilliant dancer with mastery over the medium. It was her expressive abhinaya that succeeded in bringing out the wholly devotional aspect of Arrayar Sevai. She had cleverly interwoven the Nritta, nrittya, nattya, angika, vachika, aaharya and satvika abhinaya aspects of Bharata Natyam into..."
Departure from Beaten Track
The Times of India
"Usha's tremendous loyalty to tradition with her creative impulse for innovations lifts her dance from the level of gymnastics to that of a sublime spiritual experience. Another major item of the evening was her rendering of the varnam...finishing the footwork precisely with elegant gestures and postures blended well to make the exposition a thrilling affair..."
Discovery of Dance Form
By Subbudu, Statesman
"It goes to the credit of Usha Narayan, a research scholar working on a grant from the Sangeet Natak Academy has adapted the Arrayar Sevai, an hitherto unknown form of dance confined to the sanctum sanctorum to context of a larger stage...If the Manipuri style with its ritualistic overtones can be stage worthy, so can the Arrayar Sevai sustain itself with some changes..."
Visualization of Thought through Dance
"...While Padma Subramaniam's evening was devoted to visualizing Sankaracharya's thought through dance Usha Narayan's presentation focused on Ramanuja Chariar. She managed to convey some of the great tidal waves of love and bhakti..."