Bios & Resumes
Sheetal Gandhi was born in Oakland, CA to parents Jyoti and Naren Gandhi who are originally from India. Sheetal's father was a brilliant man and came to America on a TATA Scholarship to study his Masters in Engineering. Upon receiving his degree from Purdue University in Indiana, he bought a Greyhound bus ticket - $90 for 90 days. On this one bus trip, he visited numerous cities all around the U.S. As a man who appreciated beauty and nature, he fell in love with San Francisco. But first, he needed to get married. So, in the spirit of all “arranged marriages”, he went back to India, met a few women, picked Sheetal’s mother Jyoti, and the two settled in Berkeley, CA. Eventually, Sheetal was born. She has two brothers, Sunil and Sachin who are also married with kids of their own!
Sheetal started her first formal lesson in the arts as a musician. She had a musical ear and could easily pick up tunes on her toy xylophone. Her parents put her in piano lessons, and it was this early training in music that has influenced Sheetal to this day. By the time she was 13 years-old, she had moved from piano to dance and to the performing arts in general. She sang, acted and danced throughout elementary, junior and high school, and eventually attended U.C. Irvine as a double major in dance and psychology.
While studying at U.C. Irvine, Sheetal studied with and performed for her most influential dance mentor to date, world-renowned modern dance choreographer, Donald McKayle.
McKayle encouraged Sheetal's love for rhythm and character work. This love for rhythm and culture inspired her to spend a year in Ghana, West Africa, where she was deeply immersed in the music, dance and culture of the region. Sheetal performed as a guest artist with the National Ghana Dance Ensemble and traveled throughout villages of Ghana performing traditional dances with the Novisi Cultural Troupe. Within her own culture, she grew up folk dancing and in 1995 moved to India to further study the north Indian classical dance form Kathak. As a percussionist, Sheetal plays the Calabash, or dried gourd, and the West African Xylophone.
In 1996, she moved to New York City where, over the next three years, she performed in a variety of plays and musicals including: Fables, Children of Eden, and Hair. She sang with the all women's a cappella group Anam Cara - Angels of A cappella and was a key player in the reconstruction and performance of the works of Hadassah, (Hadassah was a pioneer of Israeli and Indian dancing in America in the 1950's, 60's and 70's and chairwoman of the ethnic division at New Dance Group in NYC). Sheetal could also be seen playing her calabash and singing on the subway platforms of Rockefeller Center between 1996 and 1998!
In 1999, Sheetal moved to Montreal and began working on the new Cirque du Soleil production, Dralion. She was hired to create a character, Oceane “Goddess of Water”, using elements of Indian classical dance blended with a more contemporary style. With a company of over 53 performers from eight countries, Sheetal was one of only two Americans. She performed the leading role for two years on tour; doing 10 shows a week throughout Canada and the United States. Sheetal has appeared twice on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno as well as The Donny and Marie Show. She can be heard singing on the original American Cast Recording of Children of Eden and dancing in the DVD/VHS released and Emmy award-winning movie, Dralion.
From 2001-2004, Sheetal was Co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco-based modern dance company, California Contemporary Dancers. And in 2004, she was part of the original cast of the hit Broadway show, Bombay Dreams. Sheetal was thrilled to finally be among a cast of talented South Asians in a career that, up till then, often found her in a class by herself.
In 2009, Sheetal received her M.F.A in Dance and Choreography from UCLA. While there, she created a one-woman dance-theater show called Bahu-Beti-Biwi (Daughter-in-law, Daughter, Wife). BBB received the 2012-13 NDP Touring Award and has been presented at Harlem Stages (NYC), The Painted Bride (Philadelphia), ODC Theater (San Francisco), The Yard (Martha’s Vineyard), CSUMB (Monterey), the Maui Arts and Cultural Center and Kahilu Theatre (Hawaii), VSA Arts New Mexico, Goodhart Hall (Bryn Mawr), South Puget College (Washington), Florida Dance Festival, 24th St. Theater (Los Angeles), The Lab Theater (Minneapolis), Highways Performance Space (Los Angeles), The Joyce Soho (NYC), The Jacob’s Pillow Festival (MA), REDCAT (Los Angeles), Erasing Borders Festival (NYC), National Asian American Theater Festival (NYC), and more. Internationally, Sheetal’s work has been presented in India, Israel, Mexico, Norway and Amsterdam.
Past choreographic support has come from the James Irvine Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures. She is also a recipient of a 2015 MAP Fund Award for her critically acclaimed work In | Expiration. Sheetal was also awarded two prestigious artist residencies in 2014 (Djerassi and Montalvo), the 2012 Annenberg Community Beach House Choreography Residency and was a participating member of the 2012 Choreographers in Mentorship Exchange (CHIME) Program. In 2010 she was selected as an APPEX fellow and joined 15 other master dancers and musicians from countries around the Asia Pacific Rim to participate in a 3-week artistic and cultural residency in Bali, Indonesia. Other inter-cultural projects include a Cultural Exchange International (CEI) Fellowship from the Los Angeles Dept. of Cultural Affairs in support of a four week residency at The Bijlmer ParkTheater in Amsterdam. Sheetal worked with the Surinamese Hindustani community as well as other people of Indian origin to create dialogue and performance around their unique experiences and feelings of being Indian and of living in an Indian diaspora.
Most recently, Sheetal spent three weeks in Dubai, starring as lead singer in a large-scale pop concert for audiences of 10,000+ from China. Her songs were all sung in Mandarin.
Today, Sheetal is based in Los Angeles where she initiates her own creative projects, choreographs on commission and collaborates with artists from a variety of genres. She is a dance and theater educator and has taught at Pomona College, Scripps College, Santa Monica College, UCLA, UC Riverside, and more. As co-founder of the Dancing Storytellers, Sheetal offers workshops and school-assembly shows that serve to educate, inspire and entertain. As a Pilates professional instructor for over 20 years, Gandhi is dedicated to healing; to the integration of mind and body, and to maximizing the potential of all those she comes into contact with. In addition to her bountiful career, Gandhi is an avid world traveler, nature lover and gardener and happily married to her husband, Sattva Lobo.