n front: Laiya Pavlov and Rep. Simon Cataldo. Rear, left to right: Sumitra Nitin, Durga Krishnan, Sunanda Narayanan, Tara Anand, Tarun Bangalore Photo credit: Ed Feather

Young dancer starts fund for scholarships

By Betsy Levinson betsy@theconcordbridge.org
August 24, 2023

Laiya Pavlov started training in classical Indian dance at the age of six. As a rising sophomore at Concord-Carlisle High School, she is giving back to other dance students who cannot afford the cost of lessons.

The 15-year-old recently established the Lotus Fund, a scholarship fund for younger dancers. 

“Donations support scholarships to provide opportunities for dancers, contributing to art and culture in our communities,” she wrote. 

Laiya Pavlov has henna dye on her hands and feet for the ritual Indian dance. Photo by Betsy Levinson

Rep. Simon Cataldo (D-Concord) has presented Laiya with a citation from the Massachusetts Legislature.

“I’m thrilled at what Laiya has done,” said Cataldo. “It’s indicative of who she is as a person, and worthy of a Legislative citation.”   

Laiya has had three teachers over the past nine years — “It’s important to find the right teacher,” she said — and currently studies with Sunanda Narayanan at her studio in Newton.

“Laiya is a very lovely student to teach,” Narayanan said. “She has innate talent, but also passion and commitment.” Calling classical Indian dance akin to “a martial art,” the instructor said it requires just physical but mental and emotional endurance as well.

It was through her grandfather that Laiya discovered her love of the arts.

“It sparks constant joy,” she said. “The dance is a rich art form where I can express emotions.”

Laiya says she has found a supportive environment in Concord.

“It’s a loving, kind community,” she said. “I’m grateful to be part of it.”