Nartan Academy of Dance was established in Overland Park, KS in 1998 by Ritu Daga. She started learning dance at the age of 5 under Guru Smita Shastri at Nartan School of Classical Dances in Ahmedabad, and completed her Dikshant Samaroh (or arangetram), attaining the degree of Nritya Tirtha. She continued her training in Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, and various folk dances of Gujarat and India under her teacher.
In 1996, she moved to the United States and continued to dance and perform before establishing Nartan Academy of Dance. Within the Kansas City area, Ritu Daga has helped organize many cultural events, helping the Kansas chapter of SPICMICAY, the Carnatic Music Association, and Alap bring artists in to perform and promote India’s classical heritage.
Nartan Academy of Dance is actively involved in the cultural scene in Kansas City and has performed for different Indian associations and ethnic festivals for locals multiple times a year. They have been invited to perform at Nelson Atkins Museum of Art multiple times and for Asha Foundation’s charity events to raise money for girls’ education in India.
Nartan has also hosted shows of its own. In 2010, Nartan hosted its first “Darpana” where all students performed; this tradition has continued with Darpana 2014 and 2018. Senior Nartan students have performed three shows, “Tandav to Tarangam”, “Anubhavam”, and "Indian Heroines of History and Mythology" in the Kansas City and Lansing districts, showcasing both Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dance styles.
In 2012, two of Nartan’s senior students attended and performed at the International Kuchipudi Convention in Hyderabad, India and were awarded Guinness World Records for their participation.
At Nartan Academy, 59 students have completed their arangetrams in Bharatanatyam, and 2 have completed their Rangapravesam in Kuchipudi.
Students can join Bharatanatyam or Kuchipudi lessons after age 5. They will be placed in groups with other students at their progress level, and will continue learning with these students. Students may be moved to more advanced classes dependent on their performance.
Typically, after 7-8 years of training, students may be ready to complete their arangetram. Each student learns at their own pace, and this timeline is at the discretion of the guru. There is no requirement to complete an arangetram. Nartan Academy's tradition, evoked from previous gurus, is to host a Dikshant Samaroah - a group arangetram.