From Dubai to Indy: Kelley Honors student makes her mark with dance and leadership


Imagine travelling across the world to fulfill your education dreams. For Nidhi Ramanathan, that dream became a reality. The Kelley School of Business junior is from Dubai, a place she describes as “beautiful with summery, sunny weather almost all of the time,” and travels back to her hometown to visit her family every six months. Ramanathan takes pride in her Indian roots and strives to bring a piece of her native culture to the Indianapolis campus.

Working toward degrees in Accounting, Finance, and International Studies with a minor in Economics, Ramanathan joined the IUPUI Honors College her sophomore year after applying and being accepted into Kelley’s Honors Program.

“I was always intrigued by it and once I applied to it, I knew that it was the place for me. I’m always inspired by other peoples’ stories. It all motivates me to outdo myself. Being in the Honors College has definitely been a worthwhile experience,” says Ramanathan.

What makes this Honors student unique is her involvement on campus and her passion for … dance! Ramanathan trained in the Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam for more than a decade in Dubai under Sri Sasi Kotakkal and her guru in India, Smt. Lavanya Sankar. She has competed and performed in over 50 dance programs and is currently learning advanced theory from Smt. Anjana Ketty.

What is Bharatanatyam? It’s one of the oldest art forms of Indian dance. Compared to others, it has stiff postures and fluid movements that use mathematical postures along with grace and facial expressions that reflect what the dancer feels. The classical dance form comes from the Hindu religion and its deities.

Ramanathan now performs her talent to audiences around the world by posting her choreography on her and her sister’s YouTube channel titled “Nidhi and Neha,” which is currently nearing 2,000,000 views. “It keeps my creative energy flowing. Dancing really helps me stay energized and even relieves my stress.” Even though Bharatanatyam has deep roots in Indian culture, the YouTube dancer sees the impact of translating the choreography into other types of music that will appeal to international viewers. Check out Nidhi and Neha’s dances to Maroon 5’s hit, “Girls Like You,” and “Shiva Tandav” from the film, “Bahubali” below: