YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. -- Nalini Rau always knew what she wanted to do.
Growing up in India, she began dancing at age seven and was choreographing by 11.
As the founder of the Natya Anubhava Academy, with studios in Yorktown Heights and White Plains, she said dancing is her passion.
Over time, her pieces developed and changed focus, from solo pieces concentrating on the joy of pure dance to more serious ballets to pieces that deal with issues relevant to our times.
"I'm all about experimenting," said the Yorktown Heights resident. "My Gurus generously gave me formal techniques and a tradtional repertoire."
Driven to express themes important to her, she choreographs to poetry, to silence, and by using Hindustani, Rabindra Sangeet, Carnatic and Western music.
Westchester, she said, has been good to her. She first came to the county in 1984. "It has welcomed Bharata Natyam the dance form, Natya Anubhava the dance school, and me with open arms and made it possible for us to grow and prosper," she said.
Rau has been teaching for close to 18 years in Yorktown, and for the past several years at the India Center in Elmsford. Her students, most of whom have ties to Indian heritage, come from Connecticut, the Bronx, New Jersey, Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam and Orange counties, as well as throughout Westchester.
In addition, Rau hosts artists from India for workshops and recitals, giving her students a wide range of experiences and teachers.
A recent ArtsWestchester "50 for 50" Award Winner (click here for story), she loves the challenge of turning abstract ideas into a movement and expression.
She said the ArtsWestchester award is particularly special as it comes from within a community in which she has strong roots. "Westchester is home," she said. "I have lived here most of my life, raised a family here, and molded the minds of the dancers who have come to me. I have given workshops in the schools here, and communicated my view of Indian history, mythology and philosophy at various schools.
"Like a banyan tree, I have roots all over now: The ancient roots in India, and the sturdy roots here."
Her school's next performance is April 26 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Pleasantville High School, 60 Romer Ave. Call (914) 299-3393 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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