Mona...Putting the OO! in BollywOOd

The name has become the closest synonym for anything Bollywood in the San Francisco Bay Area. To see her in action is to witness something special, spectacular, and unforgettable. From Bombay to the Bay Area, her journey is nothing less than awe-inspiring.

Starting at an early age, when most kids were still learning to walk, she was being trained in the national dance of India - Bharatnatyam - at the RajaRajeshwari Dance School (some of you may be tickled by imagining Mona in a Bharatnatyam outfit with flowers in her hair). After 9 years of intense training in one of the hardest classical dance forms in the world, she went on to pursue other global dance forms like Jazz, Hip Hop and even Modern Contemporary. The amalgamation of her versatility, creativity and on-stage energy made her a permanent first place winner at numerous national dance competitions in India for several years.

Her talent was soon spotted by leading Bollywood choreographers like Farah Khan, Bosco Ceasar, Ganesh Hedge and many others. Mona’s athletic moves, abundant energy, and optimistic attitude soon made her a favorite in Mumbai's entertainment industry.

Continuing her dancing journey, she worked with the who’s who of Bollywood – Daler Mehendi, Shaan, Alisha Chinai, Sunidhi Chauhan, Kunal Ganjawala, Akshay Kumar, Karishma Kapoor, Shilpa Shetty, and the maestro himself – A.R.Rahman.

Her urge for spreading the universal language of dance, as well as the quest for creativity, led her to creating the first structured Bollywood Dance program for the India Community Center in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not entirely satiated, she created a Bollywood Aerobics program which instantly became a huge success, the very popular Jollywood dance group for senior citizens, and founded Naach Inc, one of America's premier Bollywood Dance companies. She designed and choreographed spectacular dance sequences for several banquets (AIF, ICC, TieCON) and NPOs (Sankara Eye Foundation, Charitable Care Foundation, ASHA).

While making her own identity in the glamorous and competitive dance world, she has not lost touch with her human side. Mona’s dedicated and committed affiliation with Jeena, a support group for children with developmental disorders and their families, is truly touching.

Like many other choreographers, Mona believes that dance is not defined by any one technique and it shares no boundaries. Dance, like other performing arts, is a gift. As artists, it is not only an honor but a moral responsibility for us to share this gift and spread the joy of dance.

She loves the works of Mia Michaels, Jamie King, Wade Robson, Paula Abdul, & Shiamak Davar and some of her greatest inspirations to create and innovate are Madonna, Cirque De Soleil, AR Rahman, Dragone, and Walt Disney. (Noteworthy mention must be made of the movie "Kung Fu Panda" as it also provided inspiration to Mona - not dance related thankfully - and after watching it numerous times it took the spot of 'favourite movie.')

Mona is eternally thankful to all her dance mentors, instructors, dancers, students, team, family and friends for the amazing journey so far!