Teen honors roots and community with traditional dance and generous donation

The gift of dance became a gift to the Tucson community recently when a local teen selflessly donated proceeds from a time-honored, traditional Indian dance to benefit breast cancer care at TMC.

University High School student, Naina Bhamidipati, honored her passion for her community and her Eastern Indian heritage by raising $5,000 for the TMC Foundation to support breast cancer prevention, treatment and care for women in need.

“I chose to donate to the Women’s Cancer fund at TMC in honor of the people close to me who have been effected by breast cancer,” Naina said.

Since age 5, Naina has been studying and practicing the classical Indian dance known as Bharatanatyam under the tutelage of Guru Kalashri Asha Gopal.

The origins of Bharatanatyam can be traced back to centuries ago in ancient India as a celebration and representation of spiritual ideas and Hindu religious themes.

Bharatanatyam is recognized the world over for its unique style, featuring complex footwork, flexed knees and bent legs while maintaining a straight torso. The hands move gracefully, making sophisticated and meaningful gestures, and all are performed to traditional music.

“The significance of Bharatanatyam to me is an art form that has taught me how to live my life. It taught me to be focused, balanced, and how to always be in control of my life. I learned how to express myself effectively without saying a word,” said Naina. “But most of all, it taught me to accept myself, be proud of myself, and accept the people around me. It has been and always will be an integral part of my life.”

When the instructor, called “guru”, determines the student has mastered the Bharatanatyam, a special ceremony called Arangetram is held to honor the student’s accomplishment.

“I also wanted to raise awareness for such a widespread disease and help families that were going through a difficult time – it was the best present on my Arangetram day,” Naina said.

With 10 years of intense study behind her, Naina has performed in many dance conventions, productions and gatherings, including the North American Telugu Association’s annual convention in Los Angeles.

She also has a deep appreciation for knowledge and community advocacy. Naina volunteers as a teen attorney with the Pima County Teen Court, and serves on the Dusenberry-River Library Teen Advisory Board. She is also a proud member of the leadership council at Be Free Pima – Pima County Community Prevention Coalition, a substance abuse prevention program.

“Helping my society and constantly exploring how I can make life better for people around me is one of my passions, and community advocacy is the first step to being able to do that,” Naina said. “No matter what cause I advocate for, in the end, I always leave with a new community and a new group of people that I will always support and that will always support me. For me, that’s the thrill of it, and I can’t wait to take part in many future endeavors involving community advocacy.”

Tucson Medical Center is pleased to recognize the accomplishments and generosity of this young woman.

“We are simply overcome by Naina Bhamidipati’s thoughtful gift,” said Erika Grasse, director of development for pediatrics. “The resources will provide mammograms for women (over 40) as well as fund breast cancer treatment and care for women who need it most.”

Thank you, Naina Bhamidipati and congratulations on your Arangetram!

For more information about supporting breast cancer patients, please contact the TMC Foundation at (520) 324-3497.

Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461