Rob Reynolds Photography

Dr. Nalini Rau

Bharatanatyam Dancer | Choreographer | Director of Natya Anubhava Dance Academy | Poet

Who i am

About Me (she/her)

Dr. Nalini Rau is a dancer, choreographer, teacher, and director of Natya Anubhava Dance Academy. She is a leading disciple of the legendary Dakshinamurthy Pillai. She has trained over 200 students since 1993. She has directed over 30 dance productions from traditional to modern themes. Dr. Rau received numerous felicitations, including the Natya Nava Ratna award from the President of India under the auspices of Natyakalalayam, the 50 for 50’s award from Arts Westchester, and honors from the State Senate of NY. Her performance, choreography, and direction has been received nationally and internationally.

Jayadas Menon Photography



Dr. Nalini Rau established Natya Anubhava Academy in 1993 in New York, an academy for the art form Bharatanatyam. The art form is an oral tradition, passed from teacher to student through centuries. It has to flow like a river to grow, and allow new material to mingle with the old seamlessly.

Dr. Rau has trained over 200 students at Natya Anubhava, and over 40 for their Arangetram (Solo Debut). She has involved her students in a large number of her productions. The intense practice sessions, discussions, and recitals have infused in them a passion to give back to the community through dance with positive messages of peace and hope. Many of her students have become professional dancers and artists with a strong undertone of activism and community contributors. Dr. Rau has found storytelling through dance to be her medium to connect with the community: it is at once an expressive and healing medium.

Chitra Subramanian Photography

Practice as an artist


Dr. Rau’s innovation lies in applying the traditional style and techniques to contemporary issues. She has choreographed, directed and performed dance ballets on various current issues: Strength of women (Naari), corruption, war and phases of life (Jivan), at Arts Westchester, and respect for universal values (Govina kathe), woman as powerful survivors (Sitaayana), the deep inequalities ‘othering’ festers (Anyatha Naasti), eschewing the norms of society (Tagore Chitrangada). She has created dance ballets on traditional themes such as Devi Saraswati, Krishna, Dasha Avatara ,Geeta Govinda , and Nauka Chararitramu . She has also written original scripts, poetry in English and Hindi for her dance productions, composed jathis/rhythmic patterns and verses: Agraani, the path blazers, Ardhanareeshwara, and Sitayana featured her multilingual poetry. She has choreographed over 40 full length solo recitals to live orchestra.

Culture maker


She has performed extensively, in the local community, nationally, and internationally: at the Lincoln Center, Finlandia Talo, NYC Town Hall, the United Nations, Jewish museum, Hammond museum, Krannert Center for Performing Arts, Arts Westchester, Tarrytown Music Hall, Irvington Town hall center, White Plains City Hall, AKKA Baltimore,The Word Reiligion’s Conference, Duke Energy Convention Center, Paramount theater, the Pelham Art Center. She has been an integral part of the local community with frequent recitals of her students over the years at the Kannada Koota, Hindu Temple Flushing, Sri Ranganatha Temple, Hindu Samaj, Wappingers, Krishna Vrundavan, LipiLekha, IACAW and the India Center of Westchester. She has performed widely nationally and internationally including prestigious venues in Chennai, Bengaluru, Helsinki Finland, Orissa, SanDiego, San Francisco, New York, Atlanta.

Rob Reynolds Photography

select lifetime career


Dr. Rau has received numerous felicitations in the course of her career. Arts Westchester awarded her the "50 for 50" award as a recognition for her outstanding contributions as a choreographer in April 2015. The Westchester county board of legislators recognized her work by proclaiming June 1st 2013 as Dr. Nalini Rau day, and Natya Anubhava Academy of Classical Dance day. The Office of the Westchester County executive awarded her a Certificate of Distinguished service. IACAW honored her for her lifelong contributions as the Performing Arts Honoree in 2018. She has been honored by the SRIM center Atlanta, the SMVA Trust USA, the Indian American Cultural Association of Westchester, and the Shri Vishnu Mandir of Connecticut. She received the Natya Nava Ratna award, under the auspices of Natyakalalayam and her Guru K.N.D. Pillai, from the President of India, his Excellency Dr. R. Venkataraman in 1999. As a linguist and Gold Medalist, she was conferred the Uggersein award in Linguistics by the University of Delhi.

we are interconnected


Dr. Rau has promoted greater mutual understanding and harmony through various recitals and workshops at White Plains wellness clinics, Racial Harmony coalition, schools, colleges, temples, hospices, libraries and at community events in the east coast and the midwest. She has raised funds through her dance for the underprivileged every year through an annual recital for the past two decades. These funds have helped support schools, pure water and housing projects and medical care in remote areas in Nellore, South India. Her students became aware of global problems and their responsibility to do their bit through these fundraisers and many have continued such efforts independently as adults.

other Select interdisciplinary


Vote For Ruth

Your Vote. Your Voice.

Poetry by Dr. Nalini Rau set to rhythm by Maya Rau-Murthy

The Virus

I wrote this poem in anguish, with images seared in my mind. I danced it with the hope of reaching out so that together we can root out the virus - the virus of hatred.

Tales of Courage: Sitayana

For the past ten years I have explored, through dance and narration, the path of Sita, or 'Sitayana'. Her courage and her pain moves me each time I dwell on her story.

Mother Daughter Dance of Life

Set to Bibiana Huang-Matheis evocative piano, we share our story of a mother and daughter in the dance of life.



"We wouldn’t be anywhere we are today without you, Guruji. You have been such an inspiration to all of us. I know you have been such an inspiration to me personally. My whole adult life has been spent reflecting on the lessons you taught me. "

Piyali Bhattacharya

artist in residence at University of Pennsylvania

"She welcomed me with open arms, showered so much love and affection upon me, I will never ever forget that. All the dance classes I had with her was so much fun, so much joy, and at the same time we accomplished a lot together!"

Lakshmi Damodara

Isha foundation arts education

Rob Reynolds Photography

Reach out

Dr. Nalini Rau

connect with me

Black Circle Email Icon
Simple Instagram Icon
Simple Facebook Icon
Play Button