CHITRAKAAVYA VOLUNTEER BOARD AND STAFF
Srilatha Singh - Founder & Principal Dancer
Biography: Srilatha Singh is a dancer, has a PhD in mathematics and is a quantitative equity analyst. She moved to the Salt Lake Valley in 2005 from the San Francisco Bay area. She founded ChitraKaavya dance to explore her abiding passion for the classical Indian dance forms. She volunteers at the Utah Presents Board, and participates actively in organizations such as Utah Tamil Sangam, ICC (India Cultural Center) and other local cultural organizations. She has learnt the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam, primarily the Kalakshetra and Vazhuvoor traditions, from eminent gurus Shri Dhananjayan, Guru Kalyani Shekhar and Smt Ambica Buch, in her youth in India. More recently she refreshed her Bharatanatyam training and facilitated and attended workshops with artistes of international repute, Savitha Sastry and Lavanya Ananth, among others. She enjoys choreographing to new and unexplored themes, and teaching and presenting mythology, rhythm, mathematics, poetry and theatre, all through the medium of Bharatanatyam.
Laja Thompson - board Member & Lawyer
Biography: Laja is an accomplished attorney with a sole practitioner Law offce, from July 2003 to present, in Arizona and Utah. She has served in the major crimes division - specifcally the Family Violence Unit-- on domestic violence and child abuse matters and received the Victims’ Rights Award for Excellence in victim representation. As a volunteer attorney for family law matters in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake County. She has served in leadership roles in the National Charity League, Salt Lake Chapter, of which she is a member since 2012. Laja also has dance training in her background and has a keen interest in the arts, kept alive by the accomplishments of her daughter Mira who is a fully trained, talented Bharatanatyam dancer. Her love of the arts and her legal skills are an invaluable asset to ChitraKaavya Dance
Peter Christie - Board Member
Biography: Peter Christie, Ballet West Academy Director Originally born in Brooklyn, NY, Peter grew up in Upstate New York and began his dance training at the age of nine. At age 15 he entered the Syracuse Ballet School in New York and upon high school graduation, he joined Hartford Ballet’s Teacher Training program in Connecticut. Peter was a member of the Hartford Ballet from 1980-1982 and joined Ballet West in 1982 as a member of the corps. He was especially noted for his character roles and was promoted to soloist in 1991. Peter continues to appear as a guest artist with Ballet West. After dancing with the company for 16 years, he joined the artistic staff of Ballet West in 1998. He currently serves as Director of Educational Programs and Rehearsal Assistant. He was named as Director of the Ballet West Academy in the fall of 2004. In July 1997, Peter worked with Jacques D’Amboise at the National Dance Institute in New York City and served as assistant director for the Feel the Beat educational program with Ballet West. Continuing on with that program, he created a program entitled I CAN DO, which is currently in residence in eleven Wasatch Front Schools. In August of 2004, Peter’s
program crossed the Atlantic Ocean in conjunction with Ballet West’s invitation to the Edinburgh International Festival. I CAN DO was presented in several London schools. Peter has choreographed for Ballet West, Utah Ballet, Utah Opera, local theatre productions, and numerous works for the Ballet West Academy. Peter volunteered as an assistant choreographer for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Peter has served on the board of ChitraKaavya Board since its inception. With his diverse background and long career in the arts spanning all roles from performer, teacher, choreographer, adminstrator and community outreach, Peter’s contribution to ChitraKaavya Dance is indeed all-encompassing.
Indra & Neela Nealamegham - Board Treasurer & Accountant
Seetha Veeraghanta - Board Secretary & Member
Biographies: Indra Neelameggham came to Utah in the early eighties. Her true love remained reading and writing on many subjects. Inherent people skills and an ability to communicate on any subject made her gravitate towards teaching computer technology which helped her travel to different places. Those who have heard her lectures and workshops on Indian culture and Hinduism regard her to be truly one of the most knowledgeable persons on these topics in the region. Indra is very active in matters of concern in the state - be it interfaith activities or helping new immigrants to the community. She is recognized as a leader and a representative of the Hindu community in Utah. She and her husband Neale set up a fund at the University of Utah for Culture and Arts of India in 1985. Indra was one of the three founding trustees of India Forum of Utah in 1989. She and her husband continue to promote
arts of India, and have been involved with Chitrakaavya Dance since its inception. Indra Mami, as she is affectionately known, brings to ChitraKaavya Dance, her vast experience organizing and presenting the face of a minority ethnic and religious community, and generating awareness of our cultural heritage.
Neala Neelameggham assists with accou
Biography: Seetha Veeraghanta moved to Salt Lake City in 2001 as a faculty member at the University of Utah. She is an Associate Professor (Lecturer) Associate Director for the LEAP Program, Offce of Undergraduate Studies, University of Utah, with a PhD in sociology. Her interests lie in the intersections of cultures and different forms of storytelling. The Faculty Teaching Award for Excellence in General Education that recognizes teaching that makes a sustained and signifcant contribution to the U’s mission to provide undergraduate students with an exceptional educational experience in General Education. This award went to Seetha Veeraghanta in 2015 for her work with Engineering LEAP. Here, in the words of her nominator, “I have never been in a classroom that is as student-centered and involved as Dr. Veeraghanta’s class. She encourages argument and dissenting opinions in class. She wants students to challenge her lectures. She pushes them to contemplate the very depths of their beliefs and viewpoints. Dr. Veeraghanta does not merely teach a general education class. She teaches each and every one of her students about themselves, and in turn, teaches students how to acquire and expand knowledge.” Seetha Veeraghanta brings the same passion and focus to the work of Chitrakaavya, constantly pushing us to greater clarity of vision. She has also been trained in vocal traditions in Carnatic music. She was initiated into Carnatic music by the musical genius, Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna and his disciples.
Lavanya Mahate - Founding Member and Long Time Supporter
Biography: Lavanya Mahate moved to Utah in 2001 from India where she completed her Masters in Mass Communication with a PR and Corporate Communications major. Later, she attended the University of Utah's PG Integrated Marketing Communications Program and joined the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. After working as the Director of the Salt Lake Chamber Women’s Business Center for nearly eight years, helping entrepreneurs realize their dreams of building a successful venture, Lavanya decided to explore her own passion and entrepreneurial strengths. Lavanya’s mission is to assist people in experiencing the richness of Indian cuisine and the glorious spices it has to offer. Soon after a restaurant arm of East India Pantry came along named Saffron Valley. In March of 2013, the second branch of Saffron Valley opened in the avenues/downtown area and continues to be a local favorite with the avenues neighborhood as well as corporates from downtown. Saffron Valley has received numerous awards and recognitions including the Best Indian Restaurant by Salt Lake Magazine for 2012 and 2013, 2014 and 2015, Best of State, City Weekly's Best of Utah 2012, 2013 and others. Lavanya, personally was recognized as one of "30 Women to Watch" by Utah Business magazine in 2009 and presented the "Rising Star Award-2011" by the Salt Lake Chapter of NAWBO
(National Association of Women Business Owners), amongst other awards and recognitions. Lavanya describes her business as one that combines her love for Indian cuisine, entrepreneurship, and giving back to the community. Lavanya continues to be involved with a number of local organizations including the India Cultural Center, Governor's Office of Multi Cultural Affairs, the Leonardo, the Utah Asian Chamber of Commerce, Chitrakaavya Dance amongst others. She brings her ability to identify the pulse of the local community and her marketing skills, to Chitrakaavya dance.
Shilpi Blanchett - Member
Biography: Shilpi Chakravarty Blanchat was born in Kolkata, India and has been a resident of Utah since 2003. Shilpi has earned a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Economics and English Literature from University of New Delhi (Lady Sri Ram College) and a Master’s degree in English Literature from University of New Delhi. She recently completed a Graduate Degree in Banking with the Pacifc Coast Banking School and University of Washington. She currently works as a Vice President in the Commercial Banking Division at First Utah Bank. Shilpi has served as the Treasurer of the India Cultural Center of Utah, a local non-proft and is currently an Executive Board Member for AAU-Refugee and Immigrant Center of Utah. She has served as the President of The Utah Asian Chamber of Commerce in the past years and consults on several non-proft boards in Utah. Shilpi has always taken her role as a “conduit”. She believes in supporting and empowering local businesses to propel grass root assimilation. She believes this can create a culture of responsible sustainability from within. She started her own company “Conduit International Consulting and Management, LLC” earlier tin 2019 and provides cross-cultural and global business and investment education.