The Judges

Ambika Rajan (dance)

Ambika Rajan (dance)

Ambika started her training in Bharatanatyam under Srimati Neeraja Pal, an accomplished dancer in both the Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi traditions.  She also studied Carnatic music under the renowned Sri A. Anantharaman and Srimati Champakavalli of Calcutta.

Smt.Ambika Raman has obtained advanced instructions under Smt. Ramya Ramnarayan, Sri Adyar K Lakshmanan, Smt. Kalanidhi Narayanan, Smt. Priya Govind and Smt. Rama Vaidyanathan.

In 2005, Ambika founded her own institution, Ambika Raman Performing Arts Academy. The academy conducts Annual Day recitals, and takes part in the Tamil Sangam, Pongal and Onam celebrations at the Bridgewater Temple, Sivaratri festivals at the Sri Krishna Vrindavana temple among many others. Ambika has choreographed thematic presentations and hosted the programs of renowned artists like Rama Vaidyanathan, Shijith Nambiar and Parvathi Menon.

Smt.Ambika Raman is dedicated to propagating Bharatanatyam and continues to work towards her vision for the Academy.

Leo SUZUKI (dance)

Leo is a 15 year old professional dancer/ performer and actively working in the dance industry mainly in New York. He started dancing at age 6 with different choreographers and instructors. At age 12 he received a full scholarship to train in EXPG - one of the best street style dance studio in NYC. At age 13 he was accepted to be one of NBA Brooklyn Nets team dancer, officially making him a professional dancer. Since then he started teaching Hip hop in NJ, and was featured in many projects such as footlocker commercials, music video featuring the Jonas brothers and participated and won dance battles which are his main passion.

Leo SUZUKI (dance)

Yayoi Kubota (singing)

Yayoi is a dancer, choreographer, and singer. She was born in Nara City, Japan and graduated from Osaka University of Arts with a musical major in 2004. Yayoi has performed at various venues such as DTE, Movement Research, Merce Cunningham, Jennifer Muller's Hatch, the Cool Dance New York Festival, New York D.U.M.B.O Dance Festival, and Wave Rising Series & Reverb Festival. She was a solo finalist at the McDonald Gospel Fest at the Prudential Centre. Also she is well known for winning the Singing True Star Audition, placing 1st place against over 3000 contestants.

Yayoi Kubota (Singing)

Afsha Dada (cooking judge)

I am Afsha Dada, Chef and Owner at Petit Four Patisserie LLC. Not everyone is able to follow their passion as a profession, and that was definitely true in my case. 

I baked my first cake when I was very young and it came out pretty bad. But I did not give up and baked till I was able to get the perfect light golden pound cake with a perfect crumb. But like many, I did not follow my passion and went into the accounting profession. After years of working in the big four CPA firms, an investment bank and an insurance company, I finally gave up the accounting profession and went for my passion of baking. I enrolled and then graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education-Pastry Chef program and since then I have had the opportunity to learn from some of the most renowned chefs in the world. 

I am super excited to grow, learn and serve people by baking sweets.

Shirag Minassian is an Armenian pianist and music educator who has studied under Diana Hughes, David Brown and internationally acclaimed concert pianist Gary Kirkpatrick. With an expertise in Middle Eastern languages and culture, he brings an international and world view to music and education. He has been awarded with the Who’s Who in American Junior Colleges in 2003 and has performed in numerous benefit concerts including ones with composer Philip Glass and James McBride. Shirag has given solo recitals and has also performed with his trio, Freddie and the Chasers, throughout the tri-state area. He has recorded specials for PBS and recorded original compositions. He currently teaches piano lessons both in private and at Bergen Community College and regularly works as an accompanist.

Shirag Minassian (Musical Instrument judge)

elena melamed (Stem project judge)

Sifu Karl Romain is a certified master trainer, certified professional life & relationship coach, certified master business coach, certified executive leadership coach, certified cognitive behavioral coach, martial arts world champion, bestselling author & speaker.

Mrs. Elena Melamed is passionate about education. A classically trained musician, she earned a master’s degree from Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory. Elena’s love of teaching grew beyond music and transformed into The Renaissance Child. The Renaissance Child is an innovative learning studio for kids ages 0 through 10 located in Cliffside Park, NJ. It promotes STEAM education and teaches kids how to combine scientific knowledge and creative approach through hands-on activities. In this stimulating and engaging environment, children prepare for academic success, expand their worldview, improve their self-esteem and nurture their lifelong love of learning. Elena is particularly passionate about helping kids become excited about learning as they uncover their true potential. She believes in giving children the opportunity to develop in an environment that helps them become well-rounded individuals. She encourages kids to explore, experiment and ask questions. She also partners with parents to help children address their developmental or emotional needs and achieve their true potential now and into the future.

Sifu karl romain (martial arts judge)

Winter Gabriel is a member of Actors Equity Association- has toured in Broadway musicals nationally and internationally, performed in regional theaters, and choreographed for Off Broadway productions in NYC. Recently, she has performed and helped cast special events in NYC and all throughout the tri state area, as well for So You Think you Can Dance and Disney’s Fam Jam.

Winter gabirel (acting judge)

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