This week, for Woman Owned Wednesday we are introducing Megha Kalia, Lead Choreographer, Instructor & Artistic Director of NYC Bhangra, another “WOW” woman. She is one of the few women who have pioneered in the male dominated Punjabi folk dance genre to create a brand for herself! When I first introduced her to my then boyfriend and now husband, he immediately named her Super Megha! And a more fitting name I could never have found for her!
I have known Megha from our time in Purdue together. I had just started my Masters Program there and she was a recently graduated alum who had made a great impact on the cultural society at Purdue by initiating the Purdue Indian Dance Club! I was fortunate to know a friend of a friend who introduced me to her and the first thing that you feel when you meet Megha is her unbridled enthusiasm and zest for life! She barely knew me but she exuberated so much warmth and made me feel at home at our very first meeting! We went on to become close friends and kept in touch. Although we haven’t been able to connect as much in the recent past, I have been following her journey as an entrepreneur and advocate of Indian culture through dance very closely and cannot be more proud of all her achievements! Although she may have traveled to the US to pursue her education like a lot of Indian immigrants, she has charted an unconventional course that undoubtedly has been challenging – she has demonstrated how to find success with her strength and perseverance.
Megha started her professional journey as General Manager in an upscale restaurant in Manhattan in 2005-2006. She quit her job to travel the world (Nov 2006 to Apr 2007) at which point she started her travel startup, Elephant Ride Inc. She curated custom packages and culinary trips for tourists to India. During this time, she started teaching Bhangra as a hobby and that’s when ‘NYC Bhangra’ was unofficially born (2007). By 2010, the group had already performed three times at the NYC Dance Parade, Indian Consulate and several fairs and festivals. During the 2008 financial crisis when she lost funding for her startup, she turned that disappointment around to an opportunity to follow her passion. She took her hobby, dancing, and turned it into a full-time career – something that we all dream of doing! As they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. In 2010, NYC Bhangra organized the first Holi (the Indian festival of colors) celebration in Manhattan – it was on a small scale but the goal was to merge the colorfulness of Bhangra and other dance forms from India with the Festival of Colors. Today, she manages a dance company and a school. The “school” has regular classes for people to learn Bhangra, at all levels – from beginner to advanced, and all ages – from toddlers to adults.
For as long as I have known her, Megha, has always followed her passion for dance and lead with her heart for spreading her Punjabi cultural influences by teaching Bhangra. They are well known in New York City for hosting the ‘Holi Hai’ event which takes place annually in the month of May and attracts a large Indian and non-Indian population! A career that started with a meet-up group and a pro bono initiative is now a full-fledged company that teaches young kids this beautiful dance form, performs at social events and is transforming the way we can workout by moving to the amazing beats of the dhol! Megha’s dream is to take Bhangra mainstream and showcase it to the world and eventually taking Hollywood by storm. She has said in the past that life is what happens when you are busy planning it. We can’t wait to see her dance her way all the way into Hollywood! Go check her page and if you are local to New York City, try and check out one of her sessions. Such a great way to get your kids to be active and explore a new dance form!!