Gangaur Ghoomar Dance Academy
The Founder Director
More on the Founder Director
She was married to Late H.H. Maharaja Krishna Singh Ji of Santrampur (Gujarat) who encouraged her to pursue her love for dance and eventually turn it into a lifelong ambition to revive the Rajput folk dance to preserve its authenticity.
Seeing the Ghoomar and Naach performed all around those days, which was nowhere near to its authentic form, made her very restless as with each passing day it was getting more distorted. She finally decided she will revive this beautiful dance form to its full glory. In 1985, she formed a small group of dancers in Mumbai and started teaching Ghoomar and Naach to them regardless of their caste or community. The Gangaur Ghoomar Dance Academy was officially founded in the year 1986 to revive the dance forms.
The Gangaur Ghoomar Dance Academy and its efforts were recognised by ICCR [Indian Council for Cultural Relations] Delhi and selected the Academy to represent India in The Festival of India held in USSR to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Indian Independence in 1987.
In 1988, the NCPA (National Centre for Performing Arts) Mumbai recorded the dance form for their Archives Recording Collection.
She was honoured with several awards, to name some:
- MP Birla Award in Kolkata (1995)
- Promoting National Heritage by the Government of Nigeria (1997)
- The Dagar Gharana Award by The Mewar Foundation (2001)
- Padma Shri for reviving and preserving the dance form – Ghoomar & Naach (2007)
After her sudden demise in 2013, Executive Director of the academy Ms. Jyothi D Tommaar, along with Associate Directors, Dr Pratiba Naitthani and Maharani Mandakini Kumari, are now taking Rajmata sa’s mission ahead. The Academy conducts workshops and performances in India and abroad taking the vision of Rajmata sa Global.
A few of the performances by the Academy in India and abroad:
- Represented India through ICCR in USSR, Mauritius, West Africa, USA, Vanuezvela, Trinidad and Tobago and Middle East
- BBC Television (Jaipur)
- Apna Utsav (The Academy is a part of West zone Cultural Centre - Udaipur)
- Bharat Ek Khoj (Rani Padmini Episode no 26)
- Shilpgram Inaugural function (Udaipur)
- Sangeet Naatak Academy and Craft Music (Pragati Maidan)
- IG Stadium (In welcome reception of Nelson Mandela New Delhi)
- Celebration of 50 years of Umed Bhavan Palace (Jodhpur)
- Performed at Udaipur Palace, Jag Mandir and Bada Chowk for Millennium and Kartik Poornima celebration.
- Celebration of 50 years of Republic Day - Ganatantra Gaurav.
Lecture demonstrations and Workshops conducted at:
- Loyola University, Chicago, USA
- Merida University, Venezuela
- Christ University Bangalore
- Art of Living, Bangalore
- Rajmata Krishna Kumari
High School (Jodhpur)
- Mayo College Girls School (Ajmer)
- Organizations in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Jodhpur, Jaipur, and Indore.
Percussionist - Nagarah
Umar Mohammad is the 6th generation serving the Jodhpur Royal family as Raj Nagarchi. Rajmata Sa selected 15 year old talented Umar Mohammad for her newly established academy. He is one of the few Nagarchis of Rajasthan who are multi-talented and can play Nagadah and sing at the same time. Nagarah is the main percussion instrument to accompany Ghoomar. In his glorious journey of being Nagadchi for Jodhpur Royal Family and an esteemed part of Gangaur Ghoomar Dance Academy, he has received many awards. To name a few he has been honored with Bhuvalka Jankalyan Trust Award- Kolkata, Desi Culture Award- Abudhabi, Pashchim Rajasthan Udyog Hastshilp Utsav, Veer Durgadas Rathor Samman, Marwar Rajput Sabha, Akhil Bhartiya Maheshwari Award, Honored by former Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara ji. When you visit Mehran Garh fort in Jodhpur Rajasthan, you will always find Umar Mohommad at the gate of the fort welcoming you with his melodious voice and rhythmic Nagada.
Nandini, born and brought up in Mumbai was attending a month long workshop in Ethnomusicology at the NCPA [National Centre for the Performing Arts] Mumbai, where she met Rajmata sa for the first time who at that time was working on archiving and promoting Rajwadi Ghoomar. Trained in classical vocals, Nandini was teaching Sociology at the Elphinston college and was also learning semi classical vocals from Smt. Shobha Gurtu especially Thumris, Chaities etc. One day while in the washroom, Rajmata Sa heard Nandini humming, she complimented her, and asked if she would be interested in participating in her Academy’s Ghoomar presentations as a singer, since Gavari Bai, the legendary singer affiliated with the academy, was not keeping well. Rajmata sa said, "Why don't you watch my Academy's performance on TV. It is scheduled for tomorrow night on the "National program of Dance'. Once you see it you will say yes, because I know you will like it." As expected, Nandini was really impressed with the unique dance style, the songs that went with it and was sure that she wanted to be a part of the academy which presents the most authentic form of Ghoomar. This is how her unique journey started in 1988. Rajmata sa gave her the cassettes of Gavari Bai and made sure that Nandini sang exactly the way it was sung traditionally. Being an Uttarakhandi her pronunciations were different which Rajmata sa herself would correct and trained her to perfection. Nandini Mahesh, along with her husband is currently Director of two companies Ninaad Music which is among the best in alternate music, producing Indian Classical, Semi Classical, Authentic folk and World music and, Banyan Tree which is a premier promotion body known for its world class presentations of the intangible heritage of India.
Nishtha hails from Uttarakhand and joined the academy as a singer in 2003. She has a master's degree in English literature from Mumbai university. She is a corporate trainer and has worked for various corporate houses in Learning and Development. Along with that she has also been a Dubbing artist and a Radio Jockey with Radio Mirchi. Currently, she is living in London, U.K. as a full time parent and a Youtube content creator.
Asin is a vocalist and plays sarangi along, in the traditional way. He got the opportunity to learn from Legendary Lakha Khan ji for a brief period. He has been performing with the academy since 2009. He has been part of many world music shows and recordings. Apart from other awards he was felicitated with Bismilla Khan Yuva Puruskas.
Percussionist - Dhol, Dholak
Niyaz ji became a part of the academy in 1994. He belongs to Badmer, Jodhpur and is a part of a family which has devoted their life to Rajasthani Music. He plays Dhol, Dholak and Khadtaal. He has travelled with the academy extensively for shows, workshops in India and abroad. His elder son Swaroop Khan is a well known singer, and his younger son Zaheer is a percussionist and plays for the academy.
Percussionist - Dhol, Dholak, Hartaal, Morchang
Zaheer is the younger son of Niyaz Khan. Music flows in his blood. He learnt playing Dhol, Dholak, Khadtal, Chung and Morchang immaculately merely by observing elders in the family. He was guided and trained by his father to ace the art. He started performing with the academy in 2018. Apart from this he accompanies his brother Swaroop Khan for the shows.
Percussionist - Nagarah
Younger son of Umar Mohammad, Aadil is a graduate from Jodhpur and has been learning Tabla, Dholak and Nagada since childhood from his talented father. While studying he accompanies his father for shows and also plays for the academy whenever needed. He joined the academy in 2018, to play Nagadas. He is one of the few youngsters in Rajasthan who have opted for old instruments like Nagada, to keep the family's traditional trend alive and preserve the traditional instrument alive.
Been, Algoja, Bansuri, Morchang
Achar ji started his journey with the academy in 1994. He plays Murli [also known as Been] Flute, Algoja and Morchang. He is from Khiyan, Jaisalmer and travels with the academy for shows and workshops till date.
Ms. Hemani Pandya
Hemani joined the academy in 1988. Hemani is a Gujarati born and raised in Mumbai. She is very passionate about environmental issues, natural farming and sustainable living. She specializes in Russian language, teaches Russian as a foreign language to corporate companies and works as an interpreter. She makes sure she has the time to grow fruits and vegetables, and teaches Yoga (focusing on women's issues ). Throughout all these activities she dances for her happiness, and joins academy activities as and when required. Currently she is Director, Spaces Learning PVT LTD.
Ms. Divya Naithani
Divya’s first exposure to Late H.H. Rajmata Goverdhan Kumariji and her academy was when she was in the 10th std. She casually started picking up the melodious songs unknowingly but being a Science student in college, didn’t formally join the academy till her graduation.
Mumbai University Gold medalist in Botany-Biochemistry, Divya started formally learning in 1994. Rajmatasa was very happy when Divya took to Yoga and Personal Counselling and always encouraged her to continue doing the same. Divya was the Yoga Teacher and Personal Counsellor at Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepare for 7 years and currently is with Terence Lewis Professional Training Institute since last 12 years. She is also an empanelled examiner for certifying teachers under Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Modiji’s initiative and is a senior teacher with the over 100 years old Yoga Institute, Mumbai.
She has travelled across the world with the academy spreading the authentic Ghoomar and continues doing the same at any possible opportunity.
Ms. Rachna Minawala
Rachna was blessed to be Rajmata sa's neighbour. Her aunt would go to learn ghoomar from Rajmata sa and she would go and sit for the rehearsals. Coming from a Gujarati family, the Rajasthani Rajputana culture and dance form mesmerised Rachna too. At the age of 12, she too started learning Ghoomar along with her aunt. Her first international trip with the academy was in 1997 to West Africa, where the Academy was selected to perform for the festival to celebrate 50 years of Indian independence. She continued her journey with the academy. Currently she runs two home grown brands called “The Wishing Tree “ ( gift curation - custom made gifting solutions and corporate gifts) and “Chatter Platter” (food curation related and grazing tables, cheese hampers and multi cuisine platters and celebratory platters). With all the activities she travels with the Academy when possible.
Ms. Bhakti Bhukhanwala
Bhakti Bhukhanwala has been a part of academy since 1997. Being Rajmata Sa's neighbor, she was blessed to witness the rehearsals and the activities of dance and the preparing for the shows and travel. Belonging to Gujarati family, watching Rajmata Sa's student rehearse Ghoomar and Naach, the music, dance, culture and colorful poshaks attracted her to the dance form and the culture of Rajasthan. A commerce graduate from Mumbai University, her dance journey began at the age of 18 with the academy and still continues. She currently lives in Goa and manages an Airbnb, and travels with the Academy.
Ms. Trupti Dave
Mumbai born and brought up Trupti, hails from Rajasthan and joined Academy in the year 1999. Trained Bharat Natyam dancer she was enthusiastic to join the academy and learn the authentic style of Ghoomar and Naach of her own Rajasthan. A commerce graduate, she deals in stocks as a freelancer. She is currently based in Ahmedabad, and joins the academy for workshops and shows.
Ms. Kashmira Dhanjani
MBA in marketing, Media professional, General Manager with Network 18 Group, Kashmira; is born in a Marwari family. A folk-dance enthusiast since childhood, she found her true love for dance in Ghoomar. She joined the Academy in 1999. Being a National Judo player, Ghoomar brought in a lot of grace, poise, discipline, elegance, and positivity in her. Kashmira has performed several shows across various parts of the world and participated in training new learners in workshops.
Ms. Shetal Lotia
Shetal hails from Gujarat and joined the academy in 1999. She has done her Masters in Science (Biochemistry), and is working in the HealthCare Industry. For her dancing is like Fish in water, and can pick up any folk form in a beat. While learning the authentic form of Ghoomar may have looked a little difficult, she made sure she learnt all the intricacies in no time. She continues to be with the academy as it gives her ample possibility to balance between her work, family and passion.
Ms. Tanvi Bhatt
Tanvi, with a MBA in Marketing, worked for 8 years with HDFC Bank in the corporate office. She joined the Academy in 1999. Visharad in Bharat Natyam, she found Ghoomar as a logical extension to her dancing. Post marriage, she quit her corporate job to cater to her family duties. Presently she has established and is successfully running a charitable diagnostic and pathology centre in Mumbai.
Ms. Jalpa Mehta
Jalpa, a graduate from Mumbai University hails from a Gujarati family. She is trained in Bharatnatyam and joined the academy in year 1999. Post marriage she shifted to Surat, and is regular in joining the academy for workshops and shows whenever needed. Currently a homemaker, she is pursuing further studies and doing B.Ed.
Ms. Jigna Mehta
Mumbai born and brought up Jigna Mehta, currently lives with her husband and son in Seattle, USA. A trained Bharatnatyam dancer, she got associated with Academy in 2001. Which opened the world of Rajasthani Folk dance and Culture. Today she participates, directs and choreographs small cultural dance shows and skits, representing our country India, for a non profit organization called Gurukul in Seattle.
Ms. Mansi Trivedi
A Rajasthani mumbai born and brought up Manasi, joined Academy in the year 2004. She is a qualified Chartered Accountant, and currently working in A listed company in Mumbai as a HOD-Domestic Marketing & Client Services. She took Bharat Natyam training for 8 years and 5 years training in Hindustani Classical Vocals from AJIVASAN. She joins the workshops organised by the academy at every given opportunity.
Ms. Neelu Bhargav
Coming from a Gujarati family, Neelu is part of the Academy since year 2000. She runs a boutique in Mumbai, which specializes in Indian traditional wear and western wear. She makes costumes for Academy's stage performance. Neelu is a fantastic Garba dancer, which helped her in adapting to Ghoomar with ease. She travels with the academy for the shows.
Ms. Tejaswini Tomaar
Tejaswini has been traveling with her mother for academy workshops from the age of two years and learnt the dance form in the most authentic way of watching, becoming part of the group dancing and learning. Rajmata Sa gave her the opportunity to perform on stage at the tiny age of 2 years two months in dance ballet Maa Karani. An English literature graduate from Mumbai university, she is an aspiring actor. She has worked with Feroz Abbas Khan for 4 years as backstage manager for his play Mughal E Azam, and worked as AD in pre production of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's web series Heera Mandi. She travels with the academy when required.
Ms. Padmini Tomaar
Trained Katthak dancer Padmini has been travelling with the academy from the age of 4 months. It won't be an exaggeration if said that she learnt to dance before walking. Looking at her dance during workshops, Rajmata sa was so delighted that she let her perform on stage with the academy dancer at the age of One year and five months, in dance ballet Suraj Tharo Mukh Dekhyan Sukh paaun. An English literature graduate, she has taken brief training in Odissi and Kuchipudi as well. While trained in Indian classical dance form Katthak, she got a diploma at Terence Lewis's dance academy. She travels with the academy for workshops and shows.