Amongst the many gifts that South Asian Culture has to offer the world, the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam is perhaps one of the most beautiful.

SOMA Cross Cultural Works and Diwali Fest NJ’s mission has been to introduce a wide variety of dance and music genres from South Asia, from traditional and classical to modern and fusion and eclectic to the diverse audience that gathers for events in Maplewood.

All of this comes together with the presentation that IndianRaga Labs’ Princeton chapter is bringing to Diwali Fest NJ this year.

Join us to watch live the Pop-Thillana performance by a group of 4 extremely talented and pedigreed dancers. Their performance will follow the LEC-DEM (lecture cum demonstration format) to help the audience understand the nuances behind the graceful movements and postures that are part of this beautiful dance form.

The Thillana is the crescendo of Bharatanatyam performances. It is the liveliest dance for the whole maargam or sequence of dances in a concert.

Thillana showcases pure dance technique and usually set to a musical composition that uses syllables like “ta-na-dheem” to end the concert.

About IndianRaga and the artists performing at Diwali Fest NJ:

IndianRaga is an Arts education startup founded at MIT, Cambridge, MA.

Their goal is to become the largest community of artists and mentors in the world producing authentic, yet groundbreaking works in the performing arts. IndianRaga’s product mix includes certifications, courses, Fellowships, competitions and RagaLabs. 

RagaLabs are music and dance workshops where you learn, perform and collaborate with groups of 6-8 artists to conceptualize and produce high-quality videos which frequently go viral on YouTube.


Anupama Sridharan: (Bharatanatyam Dancer 1) Anupama is a senior Bharatanatyam artiste with more than 20 years of experience as a dancer and choreographer who has performed in many festivals and venues across India, Singapore and U.S.A.

Currently based in New Jersey, Anupama is the founder and creative director of a classical dance school, Laya Performing Arts.

She continues to follow her passion in performing and choreography as well as teaching young students and helping them realize their full potential in this beautiful art form.

Shobitha Arun: (Bharatanatyam Dancer 2) Shobitha is a devoted artiste who started learning this beautiful dance form at the tender age of 3! Not to be surprised as she belongs to a family that is devoted to this dance form.

During her learning days, Shobitha received specialized training from acclaimed artists and gurus like Prof. Balagopal of Kalakshetra, Chennai; Smt. Nagamani Srinivasa Rao and Padmabhushan Smt. Kalanidhi Narayanan and Jagdeesh Janardhan Kalakshetra.

Currently, she runs her own dance school, arudhra saai Natyashala in NewJersey and has performed in multiple productions across the United States.

Archana Raghuraman: (LEC-DEM/Intro) Archana began training for classical music lessons at age 7. Born and raised in a traditional and conservative family from the South of India, she has a Bachelor’s in Engineering, a degree in the Carnatic style of classical music from South India. She also holds and MBA from Drexel University.

Archana’s musical journey includes a Guinness world record, Indian Idol and several live and radio concerts as a ‘Yuvavani’ or Youth Voice artist for All India Radio.

As with most performing artists, she pursued a dual career working full-time at Google. As a musician herself, Archana found IndianRaga while looking to collaborate with other artists in North America. She now heads up IndianRaga’s Princeton chapter and helps connect artists to opportunities in her spare time. She owes her infectious energy to her parents, sanity to her sister and success to her (definitely) better half and her 3-year-old daughter that she is incredibly proud of!

Ramya Shankaran: (Bharatanatyam Dancer 3) Ramya Shankaran’s journey in Bharatanatyam commenced at the young age of four under the tutelage of Guru Sunitha and Guru Marie Stella from Kalaikaveri School of Fine Arts, Trichy, India.

She holds a Master of Arts degree in Bharatanatyam and is well trained in the ‘Abhinayam’ or the expressive/acting skills which are mandatory for a skilled performer.

The multi-talented Ramya is also trained in Mohiniattam, which is another classical dance form from South India as well as ‘Yoga for Dancers’. She says that for her this combination of dance and yoga helped her build strength, focus, flexibility and stamina, all qualities that are basic requirements for a trainee to get sculpted into a perfect dancer. 

Gomathi Manoj(Bharatanatyam Dancer 4) A Bharatanatyam performing artiste, dance teacher, & the Artistic Director of Soundarya Natya Kalalaya New Jersey, Smt. Gomathi Manoj has learnt this classical art form for 22 years with over 300 performances all over the world to her credit. A software engineer by profession, Gomathi is also a talented writer with certificates in Creative writing from the Great Oaks Education Foundation, Ohio.