Artistic Director Sarika Parekh
Sarika Parekh has been a Kathak practitioner for over three decades and has been teaching Kathak in San Francisco since 2004. She holds a Kathak Visharad (BA in kathak) with distinction, and has earned multiple gold medals, city and state awards in Kathak while in India. Sarika founded SF Kala Kendra in 2010 to promote Indian art and cultural heritage by providing learning opportunities in the field of Indian classical arts in San Francisco.
Sarika started learning dance initially from her grandma when she took her first baby steps. With constant encouragement from her parents, grandparents and grandaunt late Shri Vasanti Mhapsekar, a renowned harmonium player, she started her formal training in Bharatnatyam form of classical dance from Shri Neela Rawal.
A Few years later she started her training in Kathak classical dance form, with renowned Gurus-Late Shri Dhirubhai Jariwala and Shri Umeshbhai Jariwala (disciples of Guru Shri Sundarlal Gangani and Shri Gopi Krishna). Under their guidance and tutelage she had attained her Visharad (BA in Kathak).
Sarika credits her family and grandaunt late Shri Vasanti Mhapsekerji for nurturing the love for classical dance and music into her at a very young age. It was under her wings that Sarika learned the importance of discipline, riaaz (practice), respect for the art, humility and the value of guru shisya (pupil) parampara (tradition). She has also been blessed to have received sound advice from stalwarts like Birju Maharajji, Kumudiniben Lakhyaji, Parveen Sultanaji, Keki Jijinaji, Aban Mistriji, Ghulam Mustufa Murtuzaji, to name a few. Her association with these renowned artists set the bars high for Sarika in learning Kathak and taking the art form very seriously.
In addition to Kathak, she also choreographs dances in various folk dance styles, as well as semi classical dances, and is fluent with Gujarati and Hindi languages.
Sarika has completed her schooling from Lourdes Convent School - Surat, received her Bachelors in Commerce from SPB college of Surat (South Gujarat University), a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management (offered by All India Council of Technical Education) and Project Management from University of California, Berkley.
Sarika currently works at University of California San Francisco in the Emergency Medicine. However in order spread the love for Kathak, and pass it on to the next generations she offering to train pupils in the same way she was trained.
Before making US her home, Sarika served as an instructor (grades three – eleven) in St. Xavier’s school and Vidhyabharti Vidhyalaya of Surat.
Music Director Ami Bhatt
Ami Bhatt is well rounded artist with many talents. She is an amazing folk dancer, keyboard player, vocalist (North Indian classical music) in semi classical and folk songs with passion for folk painting, Rangoli and Indian traditional arts.
Being neighbor to a classical music school and daughter of vocalist Smt. Saroj Bhatt, Ami grew up listening to finest musicians teaching and performing in her home town Navsari. She became passionate about North Indian classical music and would practice for hours to master the skill. She has been a music practitioner for over four decades
Ami has been volunteering her time teaching music at BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir San Francisco for the past several years and has lead and performed musicals, choreographed folk dances and directed dramas at the Mandir’s women’s events.
Ami routinely sings folk songs at Bhartiya Mandal hall San Francisco with SF Kala Kendra’s events. She brings in extensive experience working with kids and adults of all ages and performing classical/Indian arts.
Her other hobbies include Garba, Dandiya, Dodhiyu, Indian inspired vegetarian/vegan cooking, reciting Sanskrit slokas.