Dr. Nalini Rau is a leading dancer, teacher, and choreographer of Bharatanatyam in the legendary Dandayudapani Pillai bani. Dr. Rau has preserved the repertoire of her legendary teacher, Guru K.N. Dakshinamoorthy Pillai, given in the ancient oral tradition of the Guru Shishya Parampara, by establishing the Natya Anubhava Dance Academy. She is one of the leading disciples of her Guru in the US.
Dr. Rau while preserving the solo nature of the art form went onto experiment with the traditional technique in a series of dance ballets. She chose innovative new themes for Bharatanatyam grounded in modernity. 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) and respect for universal values (Govina kathe). She has also 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 for her dance productions, composed jathis/rhythmic patterns and verses. She has been interpreting Tagore’s poetry through dance for over twenty years. She has choreographed new vibrant Pushpanjalis, Jathiswarams, Varnams, Thillanas and Javelis.
Dr. Rau is an accomplished dancer and a Nattuvunar. She has trained over 150 students at Natya Anubhava. She has performed extensively, in the local community, nationally, and internationally: at the Arts Westchester, Lincoln Center, NYC Town Hall, Jewish museum, Hammond museum, Krannert Center for Performing Arts, Illinois, the United Nations, Tarrytown Music Hall, Irvington Town hall center, White Plains City Hall, AKKA Baltimore, Paramount theater Peekskill, Kannada Koota NY, India Center of Westchester, Flushing Hindu Temple, Sri Ranganatha Temple, LipiLekha, White Plains wellness clinics, Racial Harmony coalition, numerous schools, colleges, temples, hospices, libraries and at community events in the Tri state area. She has also performed internationally at several sites including Marghazi in Chennai, Finlandia Talo Helsinki, and at the World Religions conference in Queens NY. She has involved her students in a large number of her productions.
Dr. Rau has received numerous felicitations in the course of her career. Arts Westchester awarded her in April 2015, the "50 for 50" award as a recognition for her outstanding contributions as a choreographer. She received the Natya Nava Ratna award from the President of India, his Excellency Dr. R. Venkataraman in 1999 under the auspices of Natyakalalayam. 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.
She received an award for promotion of the art and culture from Indian American Cultural Association of India, for individual talents and contributions from the Shri Vishnu Mandir of Connecticut, from SRIM center Atlanta, the SMVA Trust USA. She has a doctorate from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. As a linguist, she was conferred the Uggersein award in Linguistics from the University of Delhi.