Ritesh Das – Artistic Director and Composer
Ritesh Das has been teaching tabla for over thirty years. He has trained for most of his life under the great gurus Pandit Shankar Ghosh, Ustad Zakir Hussain, and is currently a disciple of Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. His father was the great dance teacher Nrittacharya Prohlad Das, and his brother is the late Pandit Chitresh Das, a legend in the north Indian classical dance Kathak. Ritesh Das teaches intermediate and senior students downtown Toronto, Mississauga and Scarborough, and is the lead of all Youth and Main Ensemble rehearsals.
Razak Pirani has studied tabla for eight years under his guru Ritesh Das becoming one of his first Ganda Bandhan disciples in 2015. In 2011 Razak joined the Toronto Tabla Ensemble as a performing member and has been regularly involved in their concerts and recordings ever since. He has also featured in tabla solo and accompaniment performances along with vocalists, instrumentalists, and dancers in Toronto. Razak is passionate about sharing his love for South Asian arts with others; he teaches tabla to youth and adults and is involved with the Toronto Tabla Ensemble’s non-profit initiatives through fundraising and writing grants.
Shamir Panchal is a student of Ritesh Das and a member of the Ensemble since 2013. He teaches beginner and intermediate tabla classes at the TTE School Mississauga branch and also assists with promotional and graphic design work for the organization. In addition to his involvement with the ensemble, Shamir is currently practicing and continuing his studies in architecture in Toronto.
Melissa has always been passionate about fitness from an early age, when she moved to the US from Holland she managed 3 women’s fitness studios and obtained her personal training certificate. During her marathon training she became attracted to yoga on a physical level and attended daily hot yoga classes at Bikram and Moksha yoga in the US and Canada. Later on, when she decided to take her teacher’s training with Ananda Shakti at Sananda Yoga in Toronto, she got hooked on the psychology and it is now her main daily practice and has been instructing classes for over 5 years. In 2012 she witnessed Pandit Chitresh Das teach one of his many kathak dance classes and instantly fell in love with the artform. Melissa studied kathak with Joanna de Souza in Toronto for over a year. She is now continuing to learn from Charlotte Moraga in San Francisco, and is teaching beginning kathak classes for kids and adults.