Vandana Rao and Hema Iyengar Open Center for Arts and Wellness in Westborough

Vandana Rao (left) and Hema Iyengar
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WESTBROUGH, MA– Center for Arts and Wellness, a brainchild of two local Indian classical arts teachers – Vandana Rao and Hema Iyengar—opened recently in Westborough, MA, and will hold its first open house on Sunday, Nov. 6.

Center for Arts and Wellness offers an array of classes and services in dance, fitness, music, and wellness such as yoga, reiki, ayurvedic treatments, etc. The Open House will be held from 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm at the Center, which is located at 125 Turnpike Road in Westborough.

vandana-rao-spaceThe Center was founded and led by Rao and Iyengar.  Rao teaches Hindustani classical music through the Sur Samvaad School of Music while Iyengar teaches Bharatanatyam through the Nritya Anjali School of Dance. Both these Metrowest-based schools have been teaching music and dance to kids and adults for several years now.

The founders decided to collaborate and expand their vision to provide the community with a wider array of classical and applied art classes as well as wellness related services under a single roof, they said in a statement.

“The Center for Arts and Wellness creates a unique blend of creativity, learning, fun, exercise and art for all ages. With over 15 teachers and practitioners each with different expertise the Center is able to offer a cross-section of classes and services to cater to all interests,” the statement said.

The Center has two broad tracks – Arts and Wellness.  In the Arts track it offers lessons in dance (bharatanatyam, bollywood fusion and belly dancing), music (hindustani vocal, carnatic vocal, harmonium, guitar, and flute), and creative arts (art/painting and mehndi).  On the Wellness side the Center offers services such as reiki, ayurvedic massage, ayurvedic facials, and shirodhara.  It also offer fitness classes such a bollyaerobics, Zumba, yoga and Tai Chi. The teachers and practitioners are licensed and certified, well trained professionals and artists.

This Sunday, November 6 from 3:30-6:30 the Center for Arts and Wellness is hosting its first Open House.  Members of the public can visit the Center to meet their teachers and practitioners, and learn more about their programs.  The Open House will feature active demonstrations and one-on-one sessions by the practitioners on dance, music and wellness.  Attendees can also experience Ayurvedic massages by their Ayurvedic specialist.

Vandana Rao (left) and Hema Iyengar
Vandana Rao (left) and Hema Iyengar

The Center is located on Rt 9 and easily accessible from other highways such as I-495 and I-90.  The Center offers over 2,700 square feet of space, with multiple rooms of various sizes on two floors.  In addition to classes, there are opportunities for other entities to rent the space for events such as workshops, mini concerts and baithaks, arts and wellness classes by visiting professionals, for parties and other events.

Rao has been a music enthusiast from a very young age and started her music training at the age of 8. She trained in Mumbai for over 8 years in the khayal style of Hindustani music under the tutelage of several gurus. After moving to the US, she renewed her training in music under Sadhana Upadhyay at the LearnQuest Academy of Music in Waltham, Massachusetts, learning various styles of Hindustani music including khayal, and light folk.  More recently, she has started training in dhrupad style of Hindustani music from Pt. Ramakant Gundecha, and also trains under Warren Senders, a vocalist and composer in Indian and Western music. She performs at local events and enjoys composing music in her free time.

In 2014, Rao started the Sur Samvaad School of Music in Westborough where she teaches classical music to both young children and adults alike and currently has over a thirty students.  Her students have performed at various events such as Big Help, Navratri celebration at the Sri Lakshmi temple, Shivratri celebration at the Sai temple and many others.

Iyengar is passionate about classical dance and feels that dance is an expression of inner feeling. She started learning dance at the age of 4 in Pune, India under the tutelage of various gurus like Radha Moorthy, Suchetha Chapekar and Madurai Muralidharan and has in turn been spreading her art for over 15 years. She continues to enhance her knowledge even today by learning under various gurus. Her passion for dance continues to be showcased through her teaching and choreographies.

Iyengar teaches the Vazhuvoor Style of Bharatanatyam which was created by Vazhuvoor Ramiah Pillai. She also creates fusion dances that have been showcased at various organizations such as BigHelp, IAGB, ISW, NETS, NEMA, KANE etc.

In 2006, Iyengar founded the NrityaAnjali School of Dance and has been giving group and private lessons for youngsters and adults. Classes are held in the metro west area, Newton and Attleboro.



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