"Dance is an Expression that makes an Indelible Impression"
- Shehnaaz Jagasia
Founder & Creative Director
Shehnaaz Jagasia, a geneticist by profession, chose to pursue her passion for dance in 2009. The joy she found from teaching children combined with her love for dance drove her to create the Shehnaaz Dance Academy in 2012.
Shehnaaz is a trained dancer in Classical Dance form of Bharatnatyam (Dr. Swaminathan) and has learnt other dance forms (like Jazz, Salsa, Cha Cha Cha) from the Shiamak Davar Institute of Performing Arts. She has participated in several stage shows and has been an integral part of choreographed dances since the early age of 3.
Shehnaaz holds two Master’s degrees: Master’s in Biochemistry from the University of Mumbai, India as well as Master’s in Human Molecular Genetics from Imperial College London. She has worked in the field of Stem Cell Banking, Myeloproliferative Disorders and Melanomas. After moving to New York city, she has worked in New York Blood Center and NYU Langone Medical Center.
Patience, stamina, and her love for the children are Shehnaaz’s key strengths as a teacher. She is adept at managing the varied temperaments of children while coaxing even the littlest ones to focus and learn the dance while having a blast. She has prepped students for the OLC school Bollywood Nite, trained campers in dance at Jersey Tarana’s Summer camp, and several platforms in Jersey City and Hoboken. In 2017, Shehnaaz Dance Academy forayed into BollyHIIT Dance Workout and Choreography lessons which paved the way for several opportunities such the Indian Independence Day Parade and Gala NYC. Currently, her classes are well sought after in the various public schools enrichment programs throughout Jersey City. She hopes to instill a love for dance in her students while improving their coordination, confidence and enhancing their natural talents.
Shehnaaz Dance Academy holds bi annual recitals which allow its students a unique opportunity to showcase their hard work and to display their talents and to let their inner performers out. Our recital solidifies the relationship and camaraderie in between friends as fellow performers and garners team spirit and helps do their families proud!
Lead Instructor/SDA Company Dancers Director
Shalini is a trained dancer in the Kalakshretha style of Bharatanatyam from the Kalakshetra School of Dance India. She has previously taught Bollywood Fusion routines to children ages 5-10. Shalini blends classical dance steps to modern/contemporary music to show the versatility of the classical dance form. Her choreography promises to bring this unique combination to SDA and allows students to learn this important dance genre set to music they can relate to. Shalini is a founding member of the prestigious RU (Rutgers University) Natya from 2006-2010.
Shalini has held the role of Programming Chair at the Rutgers Association of Indians from 2008-2010 and previously managed cultural programs at the renowned State Theatre in NJ. She has previously been part of other dance schools notably, Prerna School of Dance. Shalini is an experienced Finance professional with a degree in Economics/Political Science from Rutgers University (Rutgers College). Shalini believes that dance is an integral form of expression that every adult/child should enjoy to help keep a healthy balance in today’s world.
Rajul is trained in Hip Hop, Bollywood, and basic contemporary dance forms. He has studied and competed in these genres at the Walk N Roll Dance school in Mumbai, India and Shiamak Davar Institute of Performing Arts. Rajul was the lead dancer of D.J Sanghvi College of Engineering dance team from 2012-2015 and has represented them in several inter-collegiate events. He was an integral part of the prestigious Annual DJSCE Trinity Festival which is one of the biggest socio- cultural, sports and tech festivals in India.
Rajul moved to New York in 2016 to pursue his Masters in Management of Technology from NYU. He currently works as Litigation Support Analyst in Manhattan. In his spare time Rajul strives to attend lessons at various dance studios in New York City to further hone his skills and dabble in various genres of dance. He believes that dancing is the perfect way to relieve stress, gain confidence and express oneself.
Anushya is trained in Bollywood Dance and is currently seeking training in Masala Bhangra. Dance and music have been a part of her life since school years. Having been a part of the dance troupe at St. Francis Degree College, Hyderabad (2001-2004), Anushya has performed in various intercollegiate competitions across different state and national platforms in India. She has also participated in several dance workshops including hip hop, break dance and folk in Hyderabad. Anushya moved to Jersey City in 2011 and since then has attended Latin, Hip Hop and Bollywood dance workshops in Newport. She recently completed an intensive choreography workshop conducted by popular dancer and choreographer Melvin Louis.
With a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication, Pune, she has worked across national newspapers like The Times of India and The Hindu Business Line and written stories for their multiple magazines and supplements. She is also a Certified Zentangle Teacher and Mandala Artist and takes art classes for children and adults in Jersey City and Manhattan. Anushya is closely involved with Grace Church, Jersey City, where she spends her free time teaching Mandala and Zentagle art forms to the elderly. Her love for teaching dance begins at home with her two girls.
Mehali is trained in both Classical Dance forms Manipuri and Bharatnatyam from the tender age of 5 (1997-2008) at Nupur Dance Academy, Mumbai. She was actively involved in the dance team at St. Francis School (2011-2015) and has choreographed routines and performed at various cultural events at her alma mater especially their annual cultural festival, Inmun. Mehali has been a part of Vishwa Kalakendra (Mumbai) from 2010 - 2017, where she assisted and choreographed several routines for private events like weddings, baby showers etc. Her love for the Indian folk dance Garba knows no bounds and she has performed it at several Navratri events in Mumbai.
She has a Masters in Clinical Biochemistry from the University of Mumbai and is a Post Graduate in Research and Data management. She worked at the prestigious Sanofi Aventis Pharmaceuticals as a Research Associate from 2016-2018. Mehali joined SDA as an assistant teacher in Spring 2019 and has been a strong support system in our studio sessions as well as our school sessions. Mehali believes dance is an emotion, a stress buster and great way to shed a few calories while having fun.
Dr. Kirti Mehta
Dr. Kirti Mehta, our resident Hindi teacher, is a Ph.D. in Biotechnology with prestigious publications and certifications under her belt including ARS NET. She has experience mentoring aspiring research students in her research field. She earned her Master’s from Thapar University, Patiala where she has won awards in Poster Presentation. Kirti has also worked on creating research and laboratory manuals on biotechnology procedures for her alma mater.
Dr. Kirti had taught children up to the 5th grade at Kumon and has experience in teaching kids and students up to class 12th at schools in India. In Spring 2019, Dr. Kirti covered various topics such as telling time, vehicles and transportation, parts of the body, wild and domestic animals in the Hindi class. She is known for her focus, energy and innovative ideas with respect to teaching. In her own words “Every kid is special and needs to be treated in a special way”. Besides teaching and mentoring, Dr. Kirti is an active vlogger on YouTube with rich content for travel, food and knowledge enthusiasts. She is passionate about her projects, disciplined in her approach and is a wonderful addition to the SDA Team.