Choreographer Principal Dancers
Maze Dancers Thirasheela Dancers  & Story tellers

Joyce Paul-Siamak

Dancer, choreographer & Anthropologist Joyce Paul Siamak, has been creating movement for the stage and street theatre since 1986. Born in New Delhi, India and now a native of Redmond, WA, Joyce began her dancing career inspired by the dancers of Bharatiya Kala Kendra as they played the epic story of Ramlila. She joined the institute to learn Bharatanatyam under the direction of the renowned Leela Samson in 1986, completed her “Arangetram” in 1992 and continued to perform for productions with her guru.

Her choreographic career started blooming in 1986 when she co-founded Abhivyakti Karya Shala, a grass roots performing arts organization that sought to bring social change with dance, music and theatre. All the while Joyce continued to learn and dabble with other arts forms such as Carnatic vocal, Chhau, Odissi and Mohiniyattam. She spent time honing her skill with stalwarts such as Prof C.V. Chandrashekhar, A. Janardhanan and Kalamandalam Gopi.

The unique quality of Joyce’s work is her ability to stay within the definition of classical dance while pushing boundaries and exploring non-traditional themes and contexts. Her work also tends to gravitate towards social problems and women’s issues. Her choreographic works include acclaimed works such as Kalaprayanam, Laya Samvaad, Ecclesiastes Reworked, Guru Ashtakam, Shanthala Varnam, Maand and Mother Mary Thillana amongst others.

Along with teaching and running her own company, Arpan, she is also faculty at the Spectrum Dance Theatre teaching the select Academy students and choreographing for their annual Academy shows. Joyce occasionally teaches master classes at the Universities and dance companies. She is a published author for dance medicine and Anthropology journals. She is currently  working on a book with Human Kinetics.

Joyce hopes to achieve the following with this production:

  1. Instill the idea among viewers that if we were to make an effort to take off the coloured glasses that direct our opinions and actions, then our transformed snapshot of life would enable us to honor other people’s perspectives thereby creating more tolerance, patience and love all around.

  2. Be an inspiration to all those who are suffer from chronic ailments. Show them that if their passion for the arts is strong enough, they can still cause social change through their art even if they may not conform to “normal’’ standards of performance.

Meera Krishna

A Carnatic classical singer and Bharatanatyam dancer, Meera immensely enjoys practicing and honing her twin passions in the field of fine arts. She was trained in music by her mother Smt. RadhaKrishna and in Bharatanatyam by PadmaVibhushan Smt. Sonal Mansingh. Along with the rigor of their training, both her gurus imparted to Meera a strong desire to nurture and propagate their art forms, and she continues in their footsteps today training a small number of committed students.  Meera’s other interests include hiking, mountaineering, yoga, healthy living and learning about different cultures. Her favorite interest though is raising her son Rasan and spending quality time with her husband Neelesh. These pillars in her life support her in all her avatars and help her be a better person.

Meera is happy to work on YAVANIKA with her longtime friend and dance colleague Joyce whose choreographic works Meera greatly admires. They have collaborated frequently in the past - performing together, creating new works for which Meera scored the music while Joyce choreographed the dance, and supported each other through the ebb and flow of life J. YAVANIKA brings together their collaborative energies and a strong desire for artistic excellence to create an impactful dance offering – one that builds on their strong training and pushes its boundaries some to bring a groundbreaking contemporary theme to life.

Fun fact: Meera always exclaims “Krishna!” when jolted by sudden noises or movement which never fails to bring on the giggles in practices J.

Tanvee Kale

I create code for Microsoft, choreograph dances for Pratidhwani ( or for whoever wants me to ) , express emotions, in life  ! So while I work as a software engineer - code compiling and executing as expected or so I hope, my alter ego is in love with drama, dance and theater - the sound of ghungroos and audience applause being my life's most prized moments. I stepped on stage for the first time when I was two and a half years old and since then, have been an ardent devotee of it, both off and on.

I am a trained classical Bharatanatyam dancer and that naturally gravitated me to gain knowledge of any and all Bharatanatyam dance teachers in the Greater Seattle area, Joyce being one of the most talked about. However I did not get a chance to actually dance or perform with her. Thankfully Yavanika happened, and here I am, dancing along side her. 

If anyone were to ask me - Why Yavanika, my answer would be extremely simple - Because I believe in Joyce, and especially in her firm belief in Yavanika, it being conceptualized and given form and shape from her own personal experiences. With such a strong background to the story and when it is that personal, a belief in the creator is all we need to believe in the concept. And that's why "Yavanika".

Each show I do, each production I am part of, each theatrical activity I participate in - be it dance or drama, has an impact on my life and changes me subtly or dramatically - but changes me for sure. However, I am never able to figure out what effect a production has had on me till after it is done and I introspect. Introspection at that point in time is my closest friend - a process I involve myself in after every show. So how and in which way Yavanika has impacted me - I will know only after I am done with the whole process. Rest assured, I am having an extremely fun and awesome time being part of Yavanika! :)

Prashanti Chitr

Prashanthi – a dancer and dreamer by heart, a teacher and choreographer by profession, has enthralled and entertained the Seattle audience with her creativity and artistic abilities for the past 15 years. She started as a Kuchipudi dancer under the guidance of her Guru Smt.Vasundhara and in later years by Guru Sri Pasumarthy Venkateswara Sarma, but her passion for the art led her to explore dance forms from around the world from classical to folk, from traditional to contemporary, and from Bollywood to Western making her a choreographer with versatile skills. Prashanthi believes in giving back to the world through the gift of art that she feels very grateful for. Her dream to make a difference in the world led her to direct several dance productions successfully all while raising funds to fulfill the dreams of underprivileged children around the globe. She currently runs her dance institute PCIPA (Prashanthi Chitre, Institute of Performing Arts) training several students every year while working on her extended mission to use the gift of art to empower people with disabilities. Over the years she has had an amazing journey from a dancer to a choreographer to a teacher.

Prashanthi: “Having not performed outside my own productions for past several years, Yavanika came as an unique opportunity to work with a talented group while solely focusing on dancing. Although I have not worked with Joyce and Meera before, I have always observed and admired their passion and dedication towards dance. Being a firm believer in the law of the universe that there are no coincidences, I jumped in to work with this talented duo and add another wonderful experience to my journey.

In Yavanika I play one of the Elements of life that poses challenges in the lives of two women with different perspectives played by Joyce Paul and Meera Krishna. I believe life is a reflection of our own perceptions and the views and opinions we harbor are the prism through which we selectively choose to experience it. Yavanika, as created by Joyce and Meera, resonates with this belief. I am immensely pleased and grateful to have this opportunity to support and be part of this creative production.”

Meera Srinivasan

I’m Meera and I’m a junior at Interlake High School, currently pursuing my 2nd Diploma program. Dance has been an integral part of my life; I have been learning Bharatanatyam for over ten years with Joyce Akka. Joyce Akka has not only taught me the technical aspects of Bharatanatyam, but also the deeper, subtler aspects – for instance, how to interpret a complex piece of poetry and emotionally express it, or how to choreograph a challenging concept. What I most appreciate about her is her ability to make age-old traditions and concepts that sometimes, can seem a little ancient, very relevant, whether that be through making Harry Potter analogies or hanging up a picture of Zach Efron in class.

This – Joyce Akka’s ability to present concepts in a contemporary fashion – is what propelled me to sign up for Yavanika. Initially, I was intrigued by the idea of two strikingly different personalities navigating obstacles in life and overcoming them in their own ways; I have seen many instances of this in my own life and was curious to see how Joyce Aunty and Meera Aunty would portray such an abstract concept through dance. Now, with each rehearsal, I feel truly privileged to witness Joyce Aunty and Meera Aunty choreographing Yavanika and never cease to be amazed with the unique formations and movements they craft. Yavanika is an experience that is definitely broadening my perspectives and making me realize that there is so much more to life than what I am normally accustomed to perceiving.

Other than dance, I enjoy baking, sleeping (which I don’t get to do much J), and staring out windows on rainy days (there’s something very magical about the pitter-patter of Seattle rain!).

Gayatri Shandar

Gayatri Shandar is a local artiste from From Within Academy and has been dancing for nine years. Upon completing her arangetram in 2012, she has performed around the community including productions from her dance school. She is one of the element of life (EOL) dancers in Yavanika and connects with Joyce Maasi’s strive for excellence. Gayatri is intrigued in the concept of Yavanika and wanted to expand her performances to productions with contemporary themes. She loves Yavanika because it relates to audiences yet it is a unique expression of its creators: Joyce Maasi and Meera Maasi. She comments on the experience “This production has led me to see that creativity is limitless and that solid foundations are key to the success of contemporary works.”

Gayatri is a freshman at Interlake High School and is a member of Interlake’s DECA and Debate teams. In her free time, she loves to dance, listen to music, and watch Bollywood movies.

Nivedita Potapragada

I have been dancing for more than ten years, and with Joyce Mausi for the last three. While I have enjoyed learning Bharatanatyam from amazing dancers and teachers, Joyce Mausi’s style is something very unique – she takes the time to explain the importance of every bend, every step, and every stretch. As a dancer, this helps me to visualize and understand why we move a certain way, or do a certain step, which allows me to both dance better and even to try and choreograph my own movements.

For this same reason, I believe in Joyce Mausi’s vision and her style of portraying the veiled perspectives in Yavanika. To me, Yavanika is special not only because of the very contemporary idea, but also because of the new choreography and compositions. Joyce Mausi has included several different types of classical dances, some which I have never heard of, which have allowed me to diversify and grow as a dancer.

As a student, I learned more about Yavanika and the idea behind it, and was drawn to the elements of life – the unstoppable, mystical events that unfold in the two characters’ lives. Acting as something so abstract is something I have never had experience with. I am really excited to be a part of Yavanika, and I hope be a good element of life :)

Prajakta Purohit

Coding for Chef Software, apart from all other wonderful things has also given Prajakta Purohit the opportunity to reconnect with dance. She found out about Guru Joyce Paul Siamak (whom she fondly calls Joyce Didi) and Arpan through one of her colleagues and is onto the wonderful Bharatanatyam journey again.

Prajakta took lessons under the guidance of Smt. Swati Guha Dey in India learning Bharatanatyam and Uday Shankar dance style. She has also performed on several occasions under the Nritta Sudha banner.

Prajakta is very thankful to Joyce Didi for letting her be a part of Yavanika as an understudy and has not been able to contain her excitement since she was promoted to company dancer.

She feels Yavanika is an opportunity to see with extremely creative and talented minds, knows it opens a window to introspection and believes Yavanika is us receiving from and responding to life.

Ria Punukollu

I have been learning dance for two years from Meera Krishna. I am excited to be working with the group, and getting to participate in Yavanika

Patty Leverett

Ms. Patty Leverett has a lifelong connection to music and dance, born of an artistic mother and musical father.  Since 1986, when she first saw Argentine Tango on stage in the original Broadway "Tango Argentino", Ms Leverett has focused her studies and sharing on Argentine Tango, Milonga and Vals.  Tango ranges from sweetly sensitive to deeply passionate, but the iconic image focuses on romance and longing - longing for the love that was lost or longing for the love which never was...  Patty teaches ongoing weekly classes and private lessons at DanceWorks Studio in Redmond.  Her partner in this concert is the elegant Mr. Ken Brown, also of greater Seattle's Tango community.