Minila Shah is the founder and Director of Ajna Dance. Born and raised in Canada, she has been dancing since she could walk! Minila has trained extensively in the classical Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam under the guidance of the highly accomplished Dr. Menaka Thakkar in Toronto and has also trained in Kathak in India. Minila finds joy and freedom in expressing herself creatively through movement. What sets her apart is her exceptional talent as a performer, choreographer and instructor. Minila’s Bharatanatyam training has provided a solid foundation in not just rhythm and technical precision, but also grace, expressiveness and connectivity to Indian culture. She has twice traveled to India to further her training in classical dance. And for years Minila has used her strong base of classical dance experience to explore, choreograph, perform and teach a variety of dance styles including Bollywood, Bhangra, Gujarati folk dance and hip hop.
Prior to moving to New York City, Minila was the Executive and Artistic Director of Bollywood Grooves (www.bollywoodgrooves.com) in London, UK. She was the lead instructor, taught weekly classes and courses, and choreographed and managed the Bollywood Grooves professional dance troupe. She taught private Bharatanatyam, Bollywood, Bhangra and Yoga classes, as well as packed weekly classes at the renowned Pineapple Studios in Covent Garden. She performed and led workshops for hundreds at MOVE IT, the UK’s biggest dance expo and has worked in film, television and theatre providing choreography and performances. She also developed, trained and managed a team of 15 performers and instructors.
Minila was responsible for the stylish routine, set to the composer A. R. Rahman’s Slumdog Millionaire’s hit Jai Ho, which helped Hayley Tamaddon win the Dancing on Ice crown. She has also worked with the BBC and Sky One providing them with performances and choreography. Her enthusiasm combined with her dance expertise and teaching abilities are what set her apart as an artist.
In addition to dance, Minila has traveled on another introspective journey. Minila was introduced to Yoga, Pranayam and Meditation at a very young age. She has been practicing Yoga regularly over the last 10 years. The physical, mental and spiritual benefits she received from the practice of Yoga were so profound that she was inspired to learn more. She wanted to deepen her understanding of Yoga and wanted to share the gift with others. This set her on a journey to India in October 2008, when she spent two months in two ashrams immersing herself in the knowledge and practice of traditional Hatha Yoga. She has received her Teacher Training certification and has incorporated the practice of yoga into her dance repertoire and classes.
Toronto, Canada (1987 to 1999)
• Studied Bharatanatyam under the guidance of Dr. Menaka Thakkar founder of Nrtyakala, the Canadian Academy of Indian Dance
• Completed Junior Arangetram in 1995 in Toronto, Canada
Ahmedabad, India (2003-2004)
• Completed Arangetram in 2004 in Ahmedabad, India under the guidance of Ruchaben Bhatt, student of Elakshiben Takhore founder of Nritya Bharati Performing Arts Society
Bhavnagar, India (2009)
• Intensive training with Dharamsi Bhai Shah founder of Kalakshetra Dance Academy
Hatha Yoga Instructor
• Teacher Training certification completed at Yoga Vidya Gurukul in Nasik, Maharashtra, India
• Teacher Training certification completed at Sivananda Ashram in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India