Faculty and Staff
Our faculty of experienced dance and music instructors are deeply dedicated to Silambam’s philosophy of holistic and high-quality arts education, and passionate about passing on these ancient Indian art forms to the next generation.
Click on the + sign next to each name to see more about each of our faculty members below.
Lavanya Rajagopalan +
Executive Artistic Director
Director, Bharatanatyam Program
Dr. Lavanya Rajagopalan is a dancer, guru, and scientist who has resided in the Houston area for over a decade, and is a prominent figure in the Houston arts and culture scene. Her cultural and artistic activities within and outside the Houston community are well known and have a wide reach.
Dr. Rajagopalan learnt Bharatanatyam under the tutelage of the renowned dancer and Padmashree awardee Smt. Sudharani Raghupathy. She has performed extensively and to critical acclaim, both individually and in collaboration with other artistes, in India and the US. She is an accomplished vocalist, having trained in classical music under Shri Seetharama Sharma, and later with Shri. Srinivasa Iyengar and Padmabhushan Vidwan Madurai Shri. N. Krishnan. She is a proficient nattuvanar as well.
In addition to her artistic pursuits, she holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, and freelances as a science writer and editor. She currently resides in League City, TX with her husband and two young children.
Anusha Venkataramani +
Artistic Director, Heights Studio
Co-Director, Bharatanatyam Program
Anusha Venkatramani is a disciple of Professor Sudharani Raghupathy, a Padmashri recipient and founder of Shree Bharatalaya, Chennai. Anusha has performed all over India with her guru in several popular productions like Silapadikaram, Mamudha and Shankara Loka Shankara. As a solo artist, Anusha has also performed in some of the leading sabhas during the music and dance festival in Chennai.
Anusha has also trained with Nalini Prakash, a senior disciple of Sudharani Raghupathy, and has collaborated with the Spilling Ink Project in DC, and participated in their productions like Godavari and Lalitha. She moved to the Texas area in 2014 and continues to perform and teach dance with Dr. Lavanya Rajagopalan at Silambam Houston.
Anusha holds a Masters degree in Healthcare policy and Management from Carnegie Melon University, Pittsburgh, and works for a large Health Analytics company based in Austin. Her goal is to continue performing, teach young children, and spread her love for the arts.
Krithika Mohankumar +
Co-Director, Bharatanatyam Program
Dance Company Manager
Mrs. Krithika Mohankumar had her initial training and performed her Arangetram (solo dance debut) under Guru Balameera Chandra Grimes at Nataraja Natya Niketan, Chennai, India. Thereafter, she continued her dance training under Guru Saraswati Sundaresan, in the Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam, and performed extensively both in solo performances and group productions.
Krithika has been associated with Silambam since 2005, and has taught on the Silambam faculty since 2009. She is extremely involved in all of Silambam’s activities, as a parent, faculty member, and creative consultant. She currently serves as the Manager of the Silambam Houston Dance Company, and as the Director of the junior wing of the Bharatanatyam program.
Raji Natarajan +
Director, Carnatic Music Program
Dr. Rajalaxmi Natarajan trained in vocal and instrumental music for several years at the Bhaktha Rasika Ranjani Sabha in Mumbai. She received music training from the late Shri P.N. Krishnamoorthy and Mrs. Jaya Subramaniam in Carnatic vocal music. She also trained in Carnatic violin under the tutelage of Shri. Kannan at the BRR Sabha. She is passionate about passing along the basics of this cultural tradition to the younger generation. She is a neuroscientist by profession, and pursues a full-time career as a science communicator in the Texas Medical Center.
Dr. Natarajan teaches classical music (vocal and violin) at Silambam, both as an ancillary subject for dance students and as a primary subject, in group and private lessons.
Kalpana Subbarao +
Director, Kathak Program
Kalpana Subbarao is proficient in two styles of Indian Classical Dance - Bharatanatyam and Kathak. She began her dance training in Bharatanatyam with Guru Rema Shrikant at the age of 9, and later with Guru Nandini Easwer, under whom she completed her Arangetram. She was the 2nd rank holder in the Junior, and 1st rank holder in the Senior and Vidhwat exams of the Karnataka State Board. She was also the recipient of a 3-year scholarship from the Karnataka Sangeet Natak Academy. Kalpana later took up Kathak and currently continues advanced training under Guru Pandit Sontosh Kumar. She performs extensively in the Houston area and around the world.
In 2015, Kalpana moved back to Houston, where she had previously lived for several years before moving east for a while. She joined the Silambam faculty in October 2016. Kalpana is passionate about classical dance and brings an exciting new dimension to Silambam in the form of the unique Indian classical dance form Kathak.
Kalpana holds an Engineering degree, as well as a Masters in Computer Science from UH. She has two grown daughters and lives with her husband in the Energy Corridor area.
Nithya Sherman +
Program Manager, Communications and Outreach
Dance Instructor, Bharatanatyam
Nithya Sherman had her Bharatanatyam arangetram under the tutelage of Guru. Smt. Indra Rajan in the Pandanallur Bani. She later trained with Guru Smt. Sikkil Vasanthakumari in the Kalakshetra Bani. She holds an MBA in Finance & HR, and is also a Montessori-trained teacher. She has worked in the field of school administration in India and Singapore. She has a deep passion for dance and has performed in various Sabhas and dance festivals in India. She moved to Houston in 2017, and continues to pursue her passion for dance in association with Silambam.
Nilamani Venisetty +
Director, Kuchipudi Program
Social Media Manager
Nilamani Venisetty is a disciple of Sri Bompally Sudheer Rao from Warangal, India. Nilamani started her training in Kuchipudi from a young age of 8. She has performed in some of the leading classical arts festivals all over India. She has won awards in several state and national level competitions - first prize in inter-university competitions at the National level, and three years of consecutive first prizes in the prestigious Navya Nataka Samithi of Hyderabad are a few to mention. She holds a diploma (with distinction) in Kuchipudi dance from Telugu University, Hyderabad. She has also been awarded with the title "Nruthya Koumudhini" from the Govt. of Andhra Pradesh. She also is a recipient of the prestigious CCRT scholarship for young artists from Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India. She has also trained in Carnatic vocal for 8 years.
Nilamani holds a masters degree in Immunology from King's College London and is now a PhD student in Biochemistry at University of Houston. She is Cultural Vice President for an organization called Hindu YUVA, that works to promote Indian Culture and arts at University of Houston. She also volunteers for a non-profit organization, SEWA Houston that helped thousands of refugees during Hurricane Harvey. Her goal is to stay connected to her roots and promote Indian culture by performing as well as teaching Kuchipudi to young and aspiring children. .
Preethi Ramaprasad +
Preethi Ramaprasad has trained in classical Indian Dance under Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy (Shree Bharatalaya, Chennai, India). Born and raised in the United States, she made annual visits to India to train in dance and teaching from her guru. After being a school teacher in New York City with Teach for America, from 2011-2012, Preethi now pursues classical Indian Dance (Bharatanatyam) professionally and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Critical Dance Studies at the University of California Riverside.
In 2006, Preethi was awarded the prestigious YoungARTS Scholarship from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts in the United States. Her dance, along with other scholarship recipients, was featured in the 2007 Oscar-Nominated Documentary, “Rehearsing a Dream”.
She has been trained in Western dance forms as well as the Western classical violin and vocal music. Preethi is an Honors graduate of Rutgers University in the fields of Cultural Anthropology and Political Science. During her time there, she wrote her thesis on the Devadasi tradition as it applies to the modern practice of Bharatanatyam. She continues to research, under the guidance of her guru, the field of ritual art, Bharatanatyam, music, history, and political agency.
Senior students of Silambam, who have completed their debut performances and are Company dancers, teach the Beginner and Intermediate classes as part of their overall training. Our wonderful student instructors perform a variety of functions to keep our classes running smoothly. In addition to assisting our faculty in class, they offer one-on-one pull-out time to individual students as needed for their progression, check practice logs, and monitor students during dismissal, among other tasks. Our little students love their ‘akkas’ (big sisters) and look up to them!
Our student instructors for the 2018-2019 year are (outer ring, clockwise from top left): Tejaswini Mohankumar, Shikha Lakhi, Anwita Garuda, Minu Joshy, Reshma Shajan, Maitrie Walavarkar, Crystal Tennyson, Vennila Satheesh (center, left to right): Gayathri Sampathkumar, and Aarushi Lakhi.