The Taalim team is comprised of a dedicated and multi-faceted group of teachers, artists, and people committed to promoting Indian performing arts.

Pandit Divyang Vakil | Jin Won (Kathak, Tabla) | Mike Lukshis (Tabla) | Kaumil Shah (Tabla) | Sejal Kukadia (Tabla) | Loren Oppenheimer (Tabla)

OUR GURU – PANDIT DIVYANG VAKIL

Pandit Divyang Vakil

Pandit Divyang Vakil (known as Guruji, or “respected teacher”) is a tabla guru, Indian rhythm composer, and teacher of philosophy. His expansive experience of over 35 years as a guru has produced innumerable music professionals.

Guruji becomes immensely involved in the process of teaching and understands each of his students on a personal level as he guides them in their musical journey. No compromise is permitted when it comes to the musical progression and advancement of the student. Balancing the traditional guru-shishya parampara with the modern society, he has developed his own teaching pedagogy for tabla for today’s student. All of the teachers at Taalim have received training on how to teach in this methodology from him.

With thousands of compositions to his name, Pandit Vakil has helped shaped a modern form of classical tabla, and expanded beyond tabla as a rhythm composer with his works for jangu (Korean barrel drum), standard drum kit, cajon, and other percussion instruments. His tabla work has a contemporary feel while carrying the essence and richness of the classical art form. Some his group tabla compositions include Tabla Tarkhat, Power of Tabla, Tabla Triveni and Tabla Ecstasy, many of which are performed by his ensemble Talavya. His latest work Pradhanica explores how rhythm unites dance and music and was created for kathak dance, tabla, djembe, and cajon.

For more information on Pandit Divyang Vakil, visit www.divyangvakil.com.

JIN WON – Kathak, Tabla

Jin Won Kathak Tabla

South Korean artist Jin Won is an accomplished kathak dancer, tabla player, and music educator.

Her love of Indian arts led her to live in India for over 15 years before joining the Taalim School as a faculty member and artist. She is a tabla disciple of Pandit Divyang Vakil, and studied kathak under Shrimati Shubha Desai. While in India, she also worked with leading kathak choreographers, including Pandit Birju Maharaj, Shrimati Kumudini Lakhia, Shrimati Saswati Sen, and Maulik Shah & Ishira Parikh.  Her unconventional journey has been the subject of a documentary by the Korean Broadcasting Service and serves as an inspiration to many.

Her passion is to spread Indian classical arts.  In this aim, she has authored a textbook on tabla, which is currently being translated into Korean.  Committed to her students’ growth, Jin is known as a firm, yet amicable teacher.

MIKE LUKSHIS – Tabla

Mike Bio PicMike Lukshis, a native resident of New Jersey, has dedicated his life to absorbing and spreading the art of tabla. After playing guitar throughout his youth, he eventually received a BA in Music from Rutgers University. For the last 10 years, Mike has been studying and living with Pt. Divyang Vakil in a Gurukul style of training. He is a full time teacher and manager of the Taalim School of Indian Music, serving diverse communities around NYC and NJ. While intensely pursuing the tradition of solo tabla playing, he also performs as an accompanist to Indian classical music and dance. Since 2012, he is the only non-Indian member of the world-renowned tabla ensemble Talavya. He has performed at venues and events all over the United States and abroad such as Lincoln Center, PASIC 2013, Ciudad de Las Ideas, Lake Eden Arts Festival, Sarah Lawrence College, Symphony Space, and more.

KAUMIL SHAH – Tabla

Kaumil Shah TablaAhmedabad native Kaumil Shah’s identity is shaped by tabla.  Prior to joining the Taalim School, he was a tabla teacher and performing artiste with Rhythm Riders in India.  Aside from teaching tabla at the Taalim School, he is a member of Taalim tabla groups, and plays djembe with dance & world drum ensemble Pradhanica.

A disciple of Pandit Divyang Vakil, Shah has travelled the world performing tabla with celebrated ensemble Talavya, performing at Ciudad de las Ideas (Mexico), Percussive Arts Society International Convention, INK Conference (formerly TEDIndia), Vancouver Island Musicfest, and more.  Album credits include two Talavya releases – Tabla Ecstasy and Power of Tabla.  Shah is also a multi-percussionist with fusion band Taan.

SEJAL KUKADIA – Tabla

Sejal Kukadia Tabla

Sejal Kukadia is originally from upstate NY, and is a disciple of Pandit Divyang Vakil.  Sejal is the author of Tabla Taalim: A Study in North Indian Percussion.  As a member of the Middle Eastern Sephardic music band, Divahn, based in NYC, Sejal has traveled throughout the country spreading the art of tabla to non-Indian audiences.  Sejal is one of very few female tabla artists in the USA.  She is a member of the all-female tabla ensemble, Taalika, and a former member of the duo Tabla Upaj and the trio Tabla Triveni.  As one of the original founding members of Taalim School of Indian Music, Sejal has been working at the school since 2002.  In addition to teaching at Taalim, she is the head tabla teacher at Young Indian Culture Group, Inc in Long Island and Vidya Kendra School in Kearny, NJ.

LOREN OPPENHEIMER – Tabla

Loren Oppenheimer Tabla

Loren Oppenheimer is originally from Charlottesville, Virginia. He is a committed and sincere disciple of Pandit Divyang Vakil.  Loren is a tabla soloist and accompanist for music and kathak dance, and a full time teacher at the Taalim School of Indian Music.  Loren has also conducted workshops and given performances in the USA, Canada, and India, and has participated in numerous community events which celebrate world music in the US.

Loren heads Taalim’s operations in Virginia.