Transforming Artists and Being Transformed by Them
Interim Artistic Director & Administration
Preeti Veerlapati started studying Kuchipudi at the age of 8 years old under Smt. Sujata Vinjamuri at the Kuchipudi Art Academy of St. Louis. She also trained under Kishore Mosalikanti and Sri Vempati Ravi Shankar. At the age of 18, she went to Indiana University-Bloomington where she studied in various dance styles ranging from Irish Step Dance to Hip Hop and was a company member of the IU African American Dance Company.
In 2012, she joined Kalapriya to initially learn Bharatanatyam and eventually became a dance company member. With Kalapriya, she has choreographed and performed Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam and Bollywood dances for various events and programs across the City of Chicago such as The Field Museum, Chicago Summer Dance, Goodman Theater’s Jungle Book Outreach, Harris Theater, Redmoon Winter Pageant and the Chicago Cultural Center. In addition, Preeti Veerlapati has also taught Indian Dance to children at various locations such as Bronzville Lighthouse Charter School and the Chicago Public Libraries.
In addition to signing on as Interim Artistic Director, Preeti also serves on the Board of Kalapriya as Secretary. When Preeti is not dancing, she works as an Information Technology Project Manager with over 8 years of experience in developing, deploying and managing global IT solutions. She is extremely lazer focused and structured when it comes to delivering projects whether in IT or in dance.
Associate Artistic Director: Education & Outreach
Priya Narayan is an Associate Artistic Director of Kalapriya, and is trained in Bharatanatyam and Kathak. She began her training under Smt. Rama Bharadwaj of Anghara Dance Academy. Priya completed her arangetram in 1998 under Guru Madhushree Sethuramam of Srutilaya Dance Academy. She is under the tutelage of Guru Dr. Suparna Venkatesh of Bangalore, India, and in Kathak, under Guru Dilshad Khan of Chicago, IL. Priya has been an artist with Kalapriya since 2002 and performed in works such as Sri Shakti and Satyagraha. Since 2006, Priya has taught numerous students and adults in Dance Academy settings, as well in Community Outreach programs such as in After School Programs of the Chicago Public Schools, bringing Indian culture in the form of dance and music to children of all backgrounds.
From 2010-2013, Priya was the principle artist for Kalapriya and served as the Assistant Artistic Director for 2013-2014. She has performed at many notable venues such as the Harris Theater, Field Museum, Chicago Cultural Center, and the Logan Center of the University of Chicago. She recently attended the Choreography Lab Intensive at Chinmaya Naada Bindu in Kolwan, Maharashtra led by Ramaa Bharadwaj. Priya has been awarded the Naatya Vedha and Naatya Sharaadi awards by Natraj Music and Dance and the Nrithya Shiromani by Cuttack International Dance Festival.
Priya’s work is based on Classical Indian dance brought to a Contemporary stage. She is recognized for her graceful movements and strong expressional performances. Her training as a classical dancer allows for fluid transition from storytelling in the Hindu Mythology to today’s societal issues. Her work is a vehicle of story telling and movement to bring about change within the South Asian Diaspora. Her focus is in modernizing the divine art form with content focused on the empowerment of women in the United States and across the world. Priya has an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College Chicago.
Associate Artistic Director: Marketing & Programming
Komal Shah began dancing at the tender age of four in Mumbai. Classically trained in Kathak, (the North-Indian classical dance style) from maestros including Pt. Birju Maharaj, Padmashri Sunayana Hazarilal, Shushri Madhurita Sarang, and Smt. Rajashree Shirke, she completed her Nritya Visharad (graduate degree program) in the Benaras Gharana of Kathak at age 16.
Komal went on to study and perform a diverse range of dance forms including contemporary and modern dance, bollywood, jazz, hiphop, salsa, kalaripayattu, Indian folk, and creative dance therapy, under the tutelage of renowned experts including Terence Lewis, Sumeet Nagdev, Tripura Kashyap, Vijay Lourd, Avani Shah and Ila Dalal. Komal has been instructor and company member at Sumeet Nagdev Dance Arts. She has also been assistant choreographer for the popular reality Indian TV show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa.
Komal has scripted and directed full-length professional dance productions such as Aradhana – The Radha-Krishna Stuti, Structures of Silence, Ibaadat – Rising in Surrender, An Open End, and Bodhi Sattva. She has also created and performed several compositions in her distinctive style of lyrical and Sufiana Kathak. Komal has fostered collaborations for cultural events with prestigious organizations such as the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Malhar Arts Fest, and the Kabir Festival. She has curated and performed high-quality dance performances for corporate and cultural events in the United States, and in over 25 cities across India.
Presently based in Chicago, Komal is enjoying her collaboration with Kalapriya as an Associate Artistic Director, Choreographer and Performer. She has performed at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Harris Theater, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Consulate General Of India, to name a few. She was recently invited by the South Asian Department at the University of Chicago to conduct a workshop and lecture-demonstration on Sufi Music and Dance at the Logan Center for the Arts. When not dancing, Komal is an integrated marketing and communications professional, arts administrator, and avid writer. She has a Master’s in English Literature. She was also the Assistant Manager – Public Relations and Corporate Communications at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai, India’s premier art and culture institution.