Choreographers

Santha Bhaskar

Santha Bhaskar (Artistic Director & Chief Choreographer)

A Cultural Medallion recipient (1990) for dance in Singapore, Santha Bhaskar is known for her distinctive choreography style. She is the Artistic Director of Bhaskar’s Arts Academy and chief choreographer at the Centre for the Arts, National University of Singapore, where she has taught for over 20 years.

A versatile choreographer, she has staged numerous productions from dance dramas to contemporary works in classical Indian dance as well as cross-cultural and experimental forms reflecting the unique Singapore identity. Over the years she has imbibed various influences such as Chinese, Malay, Thai and western dance styles in her choreography, illustrated in such notable works as the Chinese folk tale Butterfly Lovers (1958) and the Thai mythological story Manohra (1996).

Santha Bhaskar’s innovative style speaks for itself in various productions such as the NUS English production of a classical Sanskrit drama Shakuntala of the Mahabharata (2002). She also set local poems in all four official languages of Singapore to Indian dance in Rasa & Dhwani (2003). Her more recent much spoken about works include People Get Connected (2006), which explored the theme of human communication from ancient times to the modern day, Vibrations (2007), an experimentation of Indian dance with light, video, and dramatics interventions commissioned by the Esplanade, CHAKRA (2012), the first traditional Indian dance programme to incorporate sand art and XPressions (2013), an explorative work involving orchestration in music and contemporary use of space in dance. She has also collaborated with the hip-hop dance group NUS Dance Blast! in a light-hearted dance drama entitled Pappadum (2006). In 2008, she led the Singapore representatives, comprising of both musicians and dancers, to the World Folk Song Festival held at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, China.

Meenakshy BhaskarMeenakshy Bhaskar (Choreographer & Performer)

Born into a family of artistes, Meenakshy Bhaskar studied dance at University of Wisconsin, USA. Upon returning to Singapore, she performed and held the lead roles in several of Bhaskar’s Arts Academy’s productions including Sita’s Complaint (1993), which the company performed at the majestic Angkor Wat among other places, Manohra (1996), Rasa & Dhwani (2003) and many others. She has performed for dignitaries from all over the world, including Her Highness Queen Elizabeth. In true recognition of her talents, Meenakshy was chosen to represent Singapore in Realizing Rama (1998-2000) in its ASEAN tour.

In 1996, Meenakshy Bhaskar was granted with the Singapore Young Artiste Award for her contributions and dedication to the Arts in Singapore.

Like her mother, Meenakshy is a gifted choreographer. Because of her diverse background in dances from all over the world, her creations are forever uniquely rooted in Bharathanatyam but subtly influenced by her vast training exemplified by her most recent collaborative performance with Spanish guitarist Roberto Corrias in Yatra III (2010). She is inspired by rhythm, thus her choreographies always experiment with using unconventional rhythmic patterns. A true visionary, her choreographic style has been demonstrated in her productions of Vinayaka (2003), Yatra I (2005), Yatra II (2007), and her recent reproduction of Manohra (2009).

Meenakshy Bhaskar is currently the principal of Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society (Singapore) and Bhaskar’s Arts Academy, California. She continues to travel between California and Singapore choreographing original works in both places.

Neewin Hershall

Neewin Hershall (Choreographer & Performer)

Neewin Hershall began his training in Bharathanatyam in Kerala. He then moved to Chennai to study at the world-renowned dance institution Kalakshetra. After graduating from Kalakshetra, Neewin devoted his life to dance. He has collaborated and performed with many prominent artistes both in India and abroad. Neewin is a dedicated dancer, teacher, choreographer, vocal percussionist and Yoga exponent. He spent three years training students in Bharatha Natyam at the much-acclaimed Nrityagram in Bangalore.

In Singapore, he collaborated with Young Artist Award winner Nirmala Seshadri in the dance production Crossroads (2008) and was featured in the recent production of Manohra (2009) by Young Artist Award winning choreographer and performer, Meenakshy Bhaskar. His performances always leave an impression as was exemplified by his much talked about solo performances Rudram (2010) and Facade (2017).

He is currently a dance and Yoga instructor at Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society and a resident choreographer and performer at Bhaskar’s Arts Academy.

Ambujah Thiru

Ambujah Thiru (Choreographer & Performer)

A captivating and mesmerising performer, Ambujah is currently a member of the Bhaskar’s Arts Academy performing troupe. An effortlessly expressive dancer, Ambujah played lead roles in several productions including Vinayaka (2003), Sita’s Complaint (1993) and Vikramorvasiyam (2002). Aside from these roles, she has also performed in most of the Academy’s major productions such as Thandava (2010), CHAKRA (2009), Quest (2003) and Manohra (1996) to name a few. She has performed in Malaysia, India, Jogjakarta, and Cambodia, on some of the Academy’s many tours. Her solo shows Maatha (2002) and Nayika (2000) showcased her as a dancer with her own characteristic style, where she is both sentimental in her portrayals and crisp in her executions.
Ambujah demands the same clarity she renders to her own performances from the students she teaches at Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society. Thus far she has conducted several Arangetrams, where she proves to shine as a nattuvanar and in her choreography.

Her penchant for choreography and her creativity came to light in Thirukutrala Kuravanji (2008), her first major choreographic production. Ambujah’s growth as a choreographer was further proven in Bhairavi (2014). For her contributions to the field of dance, Ambujah has been conferred the title of ‘Nritya Kala Nipuna’ and given the Postgraduate Certificate of Honours by Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society.