About Punam Kumar
Punam Kumar is the Founder & Director of Shivam Arts School of Kathak Dance. Her passion for keeping the classical arts alive is what prompted Punam to open Shivam Arts School of Kathak Dance (formerly known as Bhartiya Nritya Kendra) over thirty years ago and she has been teaching and creating artistic masterpieces ever since. Her teaching career began back in India where she assisted her guru regularly by guiding and instructing junior students at the dance academy. Punam’s ability to bring out each student’s strength and adjust her teaching style to any age group or skill level highlights her artistic prowess and her gift as a guru. She continues to nurture talent and foster passion in all generations.
Though her students enjoy relative ease in performing, Kumar’s story in India was quite different. She grew up in a small town, Mathura, where public performances by grown girls were not appreciated at the time. Her own father was not in favor of her performing but Kumar weathered these social constraints and studied Kathak for 16 years under Pt K.S. Jain in India and received Nritya Praveen, a Master of Arts degree in Kathak from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad, India. She has also received Hindustani Classical vocal training by renowned Dhrupad Guru Shri Laxman Prasad Chaube which gives an additional edge to her dance compositions. Punam also has a Master of Science degree in Chemistry.
She has a keen interest in creating dance dramas based on mythological tales from Indian scriptures. A hallmark of her creations is the infusion of different genres of world music such as Spanish guitar, Irish folk, African drums, or Indian fusion. Her creative visions and compositions, both traditional and contemporary, bring these melodies to life, leaving a deep impact on her audience. Punam Kumar’s areas of expertise include but are not limited to art direction, choreography, costume design, music composition, class curriculum. She is also a licensed examiner for the Institute of Indian Classical Music in Calcutta and for the Mumbai-based Gandharva Vidylaya.
Notable Works & Performances
- Director, Colors of India (Victor Valley College Performing Art Center, Victorville CA – 1996)
- Participant, Annual Kaleidoscope (Irvine Fine Arts Center, Irvine CA – 1998)
- Judge, UCLA Bruin Bhangra Dance Competition (1999, 2001)
- Judge, Boogie Woogie TV Dance Competition (2004)
- Judge, Neema Sari Dance Competition (Various)
- Participant, World Shoe Fair (Sands Expo Convention Center, Las Vegas NV – 2004)
- Director, Colors of India (Mount Saint Mary’s College, Los Angeles – 2005)
- Participant, Himalayan Festival (Festival of the Arts, Laguna Beach CA – 2014)
- Participant, Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, Sponsored by the Govt. of India (Los Angeles – 2015)
- Participant, Jornada, Annual Dance Extravaganza in partnership with Arte-Flamenco Dance Studio (San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, San Gabriel CA – 2016)
- Participant, Ektaa Diwali Festival (Great Park, Irvine CA – 2018)
- Participant, Festival of India (Bowers Museum, Santa Ana CA – 2018)
- Participant, Festival of Indian Music & Dance – A special pre-event before Philip Glass & Anoushka Shankar Concert (Argyros Plaza, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa CA – 2018)
- Collaborator, Orange County Arts Teach Program – Presenting Kathak workshops and assemblies in collaboration with Bharatanatyam to Orange County schools through Sergestrom Arts Center (Orange County, CA – 2019)
Awards & Accolades
- City of Cypress 2009 – Recognized for teaching and bringing cultural awareness for over 25 years
- Swami Haridas Sammelan, Annual Hindustani Classical Music & Dance Festival – Recognized as a young and emerging artist circa, 1965, Mathura, India
- Nritya Visharad (Bachelor of Arts) from Gandharv Mahavidyalaya, Bombay, India
- Nritya Praveen (Master of Arts) from Prayag Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, Allahabad, India