Sunaina Rao, born in Mumbai, India and raised in Texas, has been training in the field of Kathak for over 20 years. Her mother and guru, Smt. Akhila Rao, is the disciple of Kathak stalwarts - Guru Sri. Ganesh Hiralal and Late Guru Smt. Asha Joglekar. She was awarded the title of "Singaar Mani" by the Sur Singaar Samsad (Mumbai) for her performance at the prestigious Kal-Ke-Kalakar Sangeet Sammelan in 2010 and honored with the title of “Natya Pravina” by Yuva Bharati, an organization showcasing upcoming solo Indian classical dancers. In 2016, Sunaina was bestowed with the title of “Nav Gandharva” for her outstanding performance at the Gandharva Festival organized by Madhyam, an organization founded by Guru Archana Joglekar for the promotion of Indian classical arts.
Sunaina completed her Visharad Purna with honors from Samved Conservatory of Indian Classical Music and Dance, NJ as well as from Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Mumbai with a 'First Class' rating. She is currently pursuing Alankaar in Kathak.
She has been an active participant at workshops conducted by Kathak maestros, including Padma Vibhushan Pt. Birju Maharaj, Padma Bhushan Smt. Kumudini Lakhia and Late Guru Maya Rao as well as Bharatanatyam danceuse Smt. Priyadarsini Govind.
She is a co-founder and principal dancer of Kathak Rhythms, the premier school of Kathak in Texas. Sunaina teaches over 50 students at the Southlake and Coppell locations of the school.
Professionally, Sunaina completed her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Houston in 2013. She then specialized in Health-System Pharmacy Administration with a 2 year residency the University of Kansas Health System along with a Masters of Science in Hospital Pharmacy Administration in 2015. She is currently the Clinical Pharmacy Manager at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center – Fort Worth.
Highlights of recent performances:
- DallasDances!, September 2018 - Dance Council of North Texas
- 4th Barnstorm Dance Festival, June 2018 - Dance Source Houston, TX
- Laya Taal Sadhana, February 2018 - Tabla Houston, TX
- Nritya Arpan, January 2017 – India Studies at Louisiana State University, Shreveport, LA
- Gandharva Festival, March 2016 – Madhayam, Princeton, NJ
- International Kathak Festival, September 2014 – Anila Sinha Foundation, Chicago, IL
- A Night of Indian Dance! with Padmashri Shovana Narayan, May 2013 – Crow Collection of Asian Art Museum, Dallas, TX
- 5th St. Louis International Indian Dance Festival, April 2013 – Soorya Performing Arts, MO
- Kathak Festival, August 2012 – Indian Classical Music Circle of Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
- Navarasa – Colors of Life, November 2010 – Samskriti Foundation, Houston, TX
- Yuva Bharati Dance Concert, August 2010, TX
- Kal-Ke-Kalakaar, May 2010 – Sur Singaar Samsad, Mumbai, India
- Texas Collects Asia, April 2008 – Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas, TX
- Nrityotsav, March 2008 – Hindu Temple Society of Omaha, NE
- Miami University Scholars Program, October 2008 and August 2007 – Global Rhythms World Music Ensemble, Miami, OH
- Lotus World Festival, September 2004 – Global Rhythms World Music Ensemble. Indianapolis, IN
- Dallas International Festival April 2004 and 2005, TX
- Natyanjali – Outstanding Young Dancers of Texas, May 2003, San Antonio, TX
The Most Inspiring Stories in Dallas
- Voyage Dallas Magazine, July 2017
“Sunaina, in her Kathak depiction of Draupadi’s fearful and impassioned pleas in the Kaurava court as the Kaurava brothers try to disrobe her, had the audience crying and cringing for the princess.”
- Silambam Network, November 21, 2010. Navarasa – Colors of Life
“The evening presentation began with a powerful presentation of Kathak by Sunaina Rao. She presented her ability of Nritta in Dhamaar. Later she took a Bharatanatyam piece and rendered it in the Kathak style with great ease. She also presented a special production whose theme was “injustice to women”. She stole the hearts of people with her briskness and sharp moves.”
- India Post, May 15, 2013. 5th St. Louis Indian Dance Festival