We had the good fortune of connecting with Neha Patel and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Neha, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The success of my business began with difficult decisions that I had to make in my personal life. My success as a person is connected to my success as a mother and the way that I decided to build up my life again after my divorce. I was a single mother with three very young children. I had the emotional support of my parents and the rest of my family, but I did not want my parents to feel the emotional pain that they would experience by watching me suffering. I wanted to be strong and not dependent on anyone. I needed to build my self-respect, not only for myself, but to earn the respect of my family and my community. I also wanted my children to learn how one develops self-respect and earns respect from others. Even without a penny to my name, I decided to go out on my own. When I got married, I left behind my career as a dancer and an actor to become a housewife and mother. When my husband left us, I had to make decisions about how to support myself and my children. I had no experience in the corporate world, and the dance world was what I knew. So I rented a small room to teach classes; I only had two or three students at the time. Even though this was a very difficult period for me emotionally and financially, the most important thing to me was to be strong and set an example for my children. I wanted them to understand that life has its ups and downs, and that one must accept difficulty and move forward. Sitting and crying about it solves nothing. I wanted to be sure that the example I set for my children would teach them to face the world and their futures with integrity and confidence.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am privileged to have the knowledge, experience and expertise in ancient classical Indian dance styles: Bharatnatyam, Kathak and various folk dances. It has always been my ambition and obligation to share these art forms. I find excitement and fulfillment teaching my students of all generations and cultures in the United States, India and around the world. My favorite activity at the age of 3 was to dance by myself in front of a mirror. Noticing my budding interest and talent in dance, my mother enrolled me in the world renowned Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in Ahmedabad, India. I started my formal training in Bharatnatyam. My interest in arts was not limited to dance. I was also chosen to study theater which lead to acting in several TV soap operas and commercials. I also participated in several street plays and delivered many educational documentaries that helped educate the rural tribal population in the interior regions of Gujurat, India. Many of these programs, folk dances and dance dramas were broadcast on local & National television in India. After my Arangetram (formal graduation from Bharatnatyam training) at the age of 9, i was given opportunity to travel and perform on various prestigious global stages, which provided opportunity to introduce Indian classical and folk dances to other countries. Also, it gave me exposure to learn different dance styles and cultures around the world. My passion continued to grow, I started training for Kathak, a classical dance style from Northern India. The dance journey continued until I got married and decided to start a family. After 18 years of marriage, being a house wife and mother of three children, life took a unexpected turn and I found my self facing divorce. This became a situation of survival for me and my children. As I have never worked in United States, I was having hard time finding employment. I made a decision to open my own dance school, starting with 3 students. Teaching those 3 students refreshed my spirit and inspired me to return to my dance study. With my past experience/training, and with the support of my gurus/mentors, I am realizing my success as the founder of a reputable Indian dance school, Naad Studios in San Diego. The growth and success of my dance studio has earned me the respect as a teacher. Currently, students are learning the theory, practical and rhythmical aspects of Bharatnatyam, Kathak, and Folk dances. Once more in my life, I am honored to share my knowledge of the rich heritage of India with hundreds of students of all ages by offering classes, workshops, lectures/demonstrations conducted in USA and worldwide in collaborations with schools, universities, profit/nonprofit organizations. I am also fortunate to help students with physical and mental challenges through the rhythmic and meditative aspects of the Bharatnatyam dance form. I have overcome many obstacles on this journey. I have learned to survive and respect myself as a individual, a mother and a teacher to my children and my dance students. By making the right choices and overcoming the many challenges along the way, I have been able to raise my children by example and have seen them blossom into positive, confident, loving and caring young adults. I have learned to always be a student, respect others to earn respect, and never give up. Take every opportunity to dance to connect with yourself. Today I find great joy watching my students stand in front of the mirrors and dance.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love the outdoors and San Diego is an ideal city to take advantage of the outdoors! I would take my best friend for leisurely strolls through Balboa Park and around Cabrillo National Monument and Lighthouse. A walk on the beach in Del Mar is also a beautiful setting. For hiking, we would go to Potato Chip Rock and Borrego Springs, but would avoid Borrego Springs in the summer and early fall months. Peacock Park in San Marcos is an interesting place to check out and watch the peacocks, or, if peacocks aren’t your thing, hanging out in the Gas Lamp District downtown is a lively alternative and offers many excellent dining choices. San Diego is very diverse and offers many interesting and exciting cultural festivals and restaurants.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My number one advocates and lifetime supporters are my parents, my children and my dance gurus. My parents and children stood by me 100% and trusted my decisions during the difficult times in my life. Their complete faith in me gave me strength and confidence to pursue my career teaching dance. My dance gurus have been by my side training, supporting and mentoring me since I began dancing at the age of 3. They exposed me to the world, sending me to far off places to perform on the stage. The encouragement and training I received from them throughout my life provided me with the motivation to succeed during the tough times. I feel honored and obliged to share my talents and provide the same opportunities for my students. Additionally, I would not be where I am today in my career without the generosity and support of my friends and the San Diego community.

Website: www.thenaadstudios.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NaadStudiossd
Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/naad-studios-san-diego?osq=naad+studios

Image Credits
Anuj Patel Manav Shah

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