Every week I receive suggestions from readers on women to feature for the #PowerWomen series on Social and Style. Many of you request that I feature local entrepreneurs and small business owners. Thankfully, I didn’t have to look too far to find inspiration. Nirathi Rao Kalavapudi and Sheila Oak Maggin run DC’s most sought after dance company – Rhythmaya. These ladies teach classes, run a performance troupe, and created the first prenatal workout inspired by Bollywood, Bollywood Bellies! Sheila is one of my best friends and a true power woman. With a full-time job and soon-to-be mommy, Sheila handles the pressures and dedication of running a dance company with ease. Nirathi is one of the most dynamic women I know. With two young girls and a third on the way, Nirathi’s passion for dance and the arts comes through in how she runs Rhythmaya, teaches classes, and performs. Learn more about the first #PowerWomen duo featured on Social and Style!
Meet Nirathi and Sheila from Rhythmaya
- Tell us more about Bollywood Bellies?! Nirathi: During my first pregnancy, I was young and scared to be active. In the South Asian community, it’s common for our mothers to tell us to sit down and not move much while pregnant. Now I have a full-fledged career, kids, and a family to manage. With this pregnancy, I realized the more active I was, the healthier I felt. We made Bollywood Bellies to show women you do not have to quit your life when you are pregnant. We want women to feel they can be active in all phases of life as a woman. As always, we suggest you consider all medical conditions before you workout and consult with your physician as necessary.
- What’s the inspiration behind Rhythmaya? Nirathi: Moving to the DC area from Alabama, I wanted to take advantage of the arts in the community. I found all kinds of ways to pursue my passion for the arts from singing to dancing, People saw me perform and started asking me to teach their children. I started Rhythmaya to create a community where children and adults can express themselves creatively.
- What advice do you have for women who want incorporate dance into their workouts? Sheila: By focusing on the choreography and music, you forget that you are exercising, Let the music and dance moves energize you and then focus on technique. With a full-time job, Rhythmaya, and a baby on the way – I have found my energy levels are not always the best to exercise. By listening to my body, I do what feels right. Sometimes that’s just doing the arm movements from the Bollywood Bellies video while sitting on the couch watching TV.
- What has been your favorite experience with Rhythmaya? Sheila: Last spring, Rhythmaya performed at the Holi in New York City event. We performed for over 7,000 people. What was so amazing is that the crowd was so diverse with all kinds of cultures and ethnicities celebrating together. I went on stage to introduce Rhythmaya and our performance to Sheila ki Javani. By the end of our performance, everyone was chanting Sheila Sheila and we took a selfie with the entire crowd! It was wonderful to share our love for Indian dance with New York City.
- What’s next for Rhythmaya?! We look forward to the arrival of our babies! We also are expanding our classes for adults. Parents who bring their children to class always say, “we wish there were classes for us!” Our annual summer camp is scheduled for August and our troupe will be performing at the Cherry Blossom festival in Washington D.C. this Spring!