Who We Are: The People of Rangashree
The founder of Rangashree, now directing its activities in the U.S., is Paulomi Pandit. The activities of Rangashree in India are led by Avani Pandit. Below are brief biographies of Paulomi and Avani. There are links to more detailed curricula vitae, including lists of performances.
Paulomi Pandit has been dancing all her life. She performed her Bharatanatyam arangetram at the age of fourteen. By the time she completed her degree in microbiology at Gujarat University, she had taken over leadership of the Tahuko troupe in Ahmedabad, and was choreographing and performing traditional folk dances.
She then joined the illustrious Kalakshetra institute in South India, where she sharpened her Bharatanatyam skills, performing in solo and group productions, and traveling internationally with the Kalakshetra troupe. She played noted roles in Purandaradasa (Dasi), Kurmavataram (Mohini), and Shabari Moksham (Sita). During two years of post-graduate work with Kalakshetra, Paulomi received a Central Government scholarship, and was named best outgoing student. Her principal instructor at Kalakshetra was Srimati Krishnaveni Lakshmanan.
Returning to Ahmedabad in 1998, she founded the Rangashree School of Fine Arts, an institution dedicated to promoting the classical and folk dances of India through authentic performances and educational activities. Rangashree’s productions have included tours of Europe and the Middle East by the folk troupe, as well as solo recitals and workshops in Europe by Paulomi. Paulomi was given a Young Achiever Award by the Indo-American Society in 2001.
Today, Rangashree’s dynamic folk troupe is active throughout India, performing and training dancers, and frequently receiving top places in competitions. Rangashree School of Fine Arts is a Public Charitable Trust in India, and is registered with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). The ICCR provides support for the international appearances of the folk troupe.
Paulomi moved to California and started Rangashree Dances of India in 2002. She is now training over forty students, from young children to dancers who have completed their arangetrams. Rangashree's budding performance group in the U.S. is bringing India's dance traditions to new audiences, while emphasizing authenticity and dedication to traditions.
Paulomi continues to perform in the U.S. and in India. She also appears regularly in Italy.
Additional information about Paulomi:
From an early age, Avani Pandit was interested in painting and good at arts and crafts. Her exposure to dance came from her sister-in-law, Paulomi Pandit, from whom she received some intial training in Bharatanatyam. Soon Avani's focus gravitated to folk dance.
As a performer with Tahuko and Rangashree, Avani displayed a natural talent for folk dance and a creative eye for choreography and costume design. Now the director of the Rangashree School of Fine Arts in India, she trains new dancers, conducts workshops, and presents folk dance performances all over India.
Under Avani's leadership, the Rangashree folk dance troupe has grown rapidly. It performs dozens of times each year, and sometimes has multiple groups appearing at different locations in India. Rangashree is well known in Ahmedabad, where it is regularly invited by leading academic, cultural, and social organizations, to present training programs, workshops, and performances. Rangashree's reputation is spreading throughout Gujarat, and some of its appearances in other parts of India are becoming annual events.
With the support of the ICCR, Rangashree's troupe performs internationally as well. Their most recent tour was to Guyana.
By travelling and performing, Avani wishes to spread an appreciation for Gujarati folk dances far and wide. As a native Gujarati and an expert folk dancer, she knows the enjoyment that comes with an appreciation for these dance traditions.