Sumati Nagpal – Artistic Director, Swastik Institute of Dance
Sumati Nagpal is an award-winning Kathak dancer and choreographer, and the most accomplished Indian classical dance exponent in Australia.
Born and raised in India, Sumati is a protege of Dr Jaswinder Kaur and Guru Rajendra Gangani Ji – the latter is the recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the highest award given for performing arts in India. Guru Rajendra Gangani Ji is also the most eminent figure in Jaipur Gharana (school) of Kathak. Sumati has learnt the timeless art of Kathak from the most exceptional gurus in India and is now sharing the knowledge with Sydney-based subjects.
Sumati gained a masters degree in dance from Punjab University in Chandigarh, India, and went on to become the head of the dance faculty at Delhi Public School, Ludhiana. She has won several awards and scholarships; choreographed shows for companies such as Red Cross, Bharat Vikas Parishad and Intel, and contributed to events like SPIC MACAY.
She moved to Australia in 2007 and founded Swastik Institute of Dance in 2008. A highly accomplished Kathak dancer and choreographer, Sumati is also adept at teaching Bollywood and other Indian-folk dance styles, such as Bhangra and Garbha.
Sumati works with a large group of dance teachers at Swastik and oversees the progress of each and every class and student, and personally conducts a number of intermediate and advanced dance classes each week.
As the artistic director of Swastik, Sumati choreographs dance shows for live Bollywood show of some of India’s biggest stars visiting Australia for concerts – from Shankar Mahadevan and Mika to Sukhvinder Singh.
Sumati’s dance shows have been featured on Channel 7 and Channel 9, and her theatre productions such as A Magical Journey with Krishna (2016), Kathak Darpan (2017) and Taj Mahal: A timeless love story (2019) have enjoyed sell-out success at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre.
Mishty realised she wanted to channel her creativity and explore her love of the performing arts when she finished high school. From here she found Swastik Institute of Dance and has never been happier.
She has always admired and been inspired by theatre and cinema while growing up. She found Kathak to be a perfect way to amalgamate her love for the traditions of India and the joy of dance movement.
Under the guidance of her Guru Sumati Nagpal, she is grateful to not only learn Kathak and Bollywood but also be able to share the gift of dancing to many like her by becoming a teacher.
In 2016 she played the role of Radha in the school’s annual production, A Magical Journey with Krishna, and during her years has had many opportunities to share the stage with international renowned artists. She has also gained many skills under the guidance of Sumati while being an assistant choreographer for the 2016 Miss India Australia Pageant.
Mishty has also had the chance to teach refugee students as she feels there is no greater way to come together than with the power of dance and music.
Conchita is Indian-born but raised in Western Sydney, with a strong connection to her Indian roots developing later on in her life when she took a leap of faith and joined a volunteer program in India during her University years.
Conchita’s love for classical dance was sparked during her time in the North of India and continued when she returned to Sydney and joined Swastik. She knew she had fallen in love with the art form and pursued it with rigour and enthusiasm. Whilst she loves all aspects of Kathak, her favourite is the theoretical aspects, which for her, give meaning and structure to this age-old form of dance.
As a teacher of both Bollywood and Kathak, Conchita wants to share her passion for dance with her students, so that they too may serve the art form and find happiness through it.
Conchita now resides in Sydney with her family and her beloved dog, dividing her time between three very different, but equally challenging fields; law, digital marketing and teaching at Swastik. She loves dancing, travelling, baking, gardening, photography and above all, eating.
Smritie’s dance journey began at the age of 5 when she was introduced to Kathak at her primary school in India. She always loved creative arts and avidly took part in school dance productions and cultural events.
Her dance journey continued after moving to Sydney, where she formally started learning Kathak and got the opportunity to perform at many dance events, cultural shows, stage productions and dance competitions.
In 2009 she joined Swastik and continued her training with her Guru Sumati Nagpal. After over a decade with the Swastik family, she has been fortunate to teach for the past five years and perform for Shankar Mahadevan, Udit Narayan, Mika Singh, Sukhvinder Singh, Australian Dance Festival, Krishna (Swastik), Taj Mahal (Swastik).
Dance brings a sense of balance, inner peace and joy to her life. Teaching has been a rewarding opportunity for her as she can share her passion and love for Kathak.
Michele started her Kathak journey at the age of eight in Suva, Fiji. She was introduced to Kathak by her guru, Shakti Roberts, and instantly fell in love with the classical dance form. While learning in Fiji, Michele also participated in dance ballets and travelled around Fiji to perform at various festivals. At the age of nine, she was the youngest dancer in her troupe and performed solo at a Diwali mela held at stadium in Churchill Park, Lautoka.
After moving to New Zealand, Michele continued to learn Kathak under the guidance of her guru, Leena Chhaganlal. From her guru Michele got the opportunity and inspiration to play one of the leading roles in the dance ballet based on the story of Prahalad, wherein she played the role of Prahlad’s father, the king known as Hiranyakashipu.
Michele, together with her guru and team members, won the second place for a Kathak-Flamenco Fusion dance in Auckland. Through Leena, Michele also got to meet leading Bollywood actress and classical dancer, Hema Malini, who came to the dance school to give an inspirational talk.
Aside from Kathak, Michele also learnt Bharatnatyam for a few years from her guru, Archana Koorthy, and got many opportunities to perform at various functions.
In 2000, Michele cofounded a dance school called Indian Cultural School of Dance, with Komal Patel, where they taught Kathak and choreographed many semi-classical dances, folk dances and Bollywood dances. Michele and Komal ran the school for three years and with their students performed for their communities at various cultural festivals.
Moving to Sydney, Michele was fortunate to meet Sumati Nagpal, who has further inspired and motivated her to not just to continue learn Kathak but also to teach again. From her guru, Sumati, Michele has enjoyed furthering her journey in learning Kathak and recently realised one of her dreams of being part of the workshops conducted by Pandit Rajendra Gangani Ji.
Michele has been teaching at Swastik Institute of Dance since 2016, and is thoroughly enjoying the challenge of teaching the classical dance form and also choreographing dance items for her students.
Varsha is a passionate dancer who has been trained in many different styles of dance, though her passion lies in Kathak and Bollywood.
Kathak has given her grace and rhythm, providing techniques she uses in all dances. It has taught her discipline and the need for practice, but also the importance of showing your passion and emotions through dance.
Varsha has passed her preliminary kathak exams from The Temple of Fine Arts and continues to learn and teach at Swastik Institute of Dance in her journey to master this art form.
She believes dances is an ideal way to communicate between different cultures and languages and uses it to spread love and joy across the community.
Vijayshree started dancing at the age of 8, training both formally and informally in Bollywood style and professional performance styles. She also learned Kathak for 3 years back in her school days. After completion of her schooling, she started training professionally with ace choreographer Rahul Shetty at his dance institute “Rahul Shetty Dance Space”. She participated as a professional dancer in various awards and corporate shows like Vanitha Awards, P&G Femina Awards, etc. While she worked as a professional dancer, her love for teaching took over, and that has been her main focus from the past several years.
Besides dancing, she has completed her graduation in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pune. While receiving her Bachelor’s degree, she continued to participate in various dance competitions and
Vijayshree comes from the land of Bollywood, i.e. Mumbai, India. She always had great support from her family for dancing and that gave her the strength to pursue her career in the Dance industry.
She has been working as a dance instructor and choreographer for over 12 years; choreographing more than 75 wedding musicals all over India. She has also worked as an assistant choreographer on television
shows like Dance India Dance, Indian Idol, etc. and is a licensed Zumba trainer since October 2016.
Her love and passion for dance is what drives her every day.
Samiksha was introduced to dance at the age of 7 by my mother, who also learned Kathak for few years. Before that, she enjoyed dancing to Garba tunes in school. She was a shy kid back then and so was
reluctant to learn dance, though she again started it by joining a kathak class at the age of 12. From there, she never looked back. It’s been more than eight years since then, and dance has been an inseparable part of her life.
She completed her Kathak Visharad in Jaipur Gharana from Bruhad Gujarat Sangeet Samiti (Ahmedabad) and Pranav parijat sangeet samiti (Surat). She was trained under the guidance of Mrs Naina Nagle and Ms Dyuti Joshi who are disciples of Guru Harish ji Gangani. The latter has been a senior lecturer at the prestigious Maharaja Sayajirao university of Baroda (MSU), Faculty of Music and dance. She has participated in various dance annual shows and dance competitions. She also went on to win second prize in solo dance category at the international multilingual dance and music competition held at Mathura in 2016.
Samiksha has always been a dance enthusiast and enjoyed doing stage shows at various school and college events, religious and cultural meetings.
A food and nutrition graduate, she recently moved to Sydney to pursue my masters in Public health where she was fortunate to come in contact with Guru Sumati ji, under her guidance Samiksha took teaching training and joined as a teacher at Swastik. While Samiskha aims to purse as a practising dietician as a profession, dance is her passion, and she’s committed to teaching everything she has learnt and continues to learn to her students.
Sruthi has been an ardent lover and admirer of Indian classical dance, especially Bharatnatyam and Kathak, since her childhood. She was trained in Bharatnatyam and Carnatic music as a kid for 3 years in Kerala, India. She later moved with her family to Bangalore and was raised there. She was a part of the main dance team in her school that took part in all the cultural events and competitions throughout her schooling.
Sruthi is an actuarial graduate and a Data Analyst by profession. She moved to Sydney in 2019 while her family still lives in Bangalore. Apart from dancing, she loves and practices yoga and enjoys cooking, reading and driving.
Sruthi began her journey in Kathak at Devaniya, Chennai, in 2015 where she was trained in Lucknow and Benaras Gharana under her Guruji Smt. Jigyasa Giri (Principal and founder of Devaniya – founder school, Dakshin Gharana of Kathak). She was also trained at Dr. Maya Rao’s school, Natya Institute of Kathak in Bangalore for a short period of time.
Sruthi joined Swastik in 2019 and started teaching Kathak and Bollywood in 2020. Dancing and teaching have always been her dream and passion and she has been trying to adapt that as her way of life over the years. She enjoys teaching and finds it very rewarding as she gets to share her limited and growing knowledge in Kathak. Dancing and teaching is therapeutic to her as it brings her nothing but happiness and contentment.
Ruchi always had a relentless passion for dance. She started Kathak when she was little and went on to complete her Vishaarad in Kathak from Bhartiya Gandharwa Mahavidyalaya.
When she came to Sydney, she was introduced to Swastik and immediately felt at home and trained under Guru Sumati didi and started teaching Kathak and Bollywood.