Amritha Mangalat: Classical Dancer, Miss India New England and a Physician in Making

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Amritha Mangalat is a graduate of Northeastern University. She has trained in Bharatanatyam, Carnatic vocal music, and Veena for nearly two decades. She has studied Mohiniattam and has taught and choreographed Bollywood and hip-hop dance, and continues to perform. She is currently a student-teacher for her classical dance guru. She serves as Alumna Advisor for Delta Phi Omega Sorority, and is a life member of both the Chinmaya Mission Boston and the India Association of New Hampshire. Mangalat regularly volunteers with these organizations.

She is currently Miss India New England and Miss India NH (2014-2015), and Miss India USA’s Miss Talented (2014-2015). She will be starting medical school in the fall, in pursuit of a career in pediatrics.

INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?
Amritha Mangalat: Currently I am teaching Bharatanatyam to some of my own guru’s younger students, which has been an incredibly fulfilling experience for me. I love working with children, and I previously taught Bollywood dance, vocal music, and Veena, but they were for shorter periods of time, as school was my priority.

I was so thrilled when my guru, Sunanda Narayanan, approached me about working with some of her students. I don’t think teaching is just about imparting the specifics of your field. The students will reflect you and your character. For me, my gurus didn’t just inform my art, they were an extension of my parents. Teaching now is making me look forward to opening my own dance and music school.

INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?
AM: I’m a life member of Delta Phi Omega Sorority, Incorporated (DPO), a social service women’s organization dedicated to children’s education and literacy; the India Association of New Hampshire (IANH), which serves the various needs of our community; and the Chinmaya Mission Boston (CMB), devoted to fostering traditional values and cultivating cultural awareness in Indian-American youth. I was raised with IANH and CMB, participating in religious, cultural and volunteering events with both groups.

My family was involved in IANH and soon IANH became my family. I used to attend CMB Balavihar and Youth Group and I attribute my knowledge of my heritage and religion in large part to those sessions. I joined DPO in college to continue my service work during school.

INE: What are you hobbies and interest?
AM: I am an artist and I enjoy the arts, classical and otherwise. As a trained performer, I particularly love dance and music, but I also grew up reading and writing voraciously. I’m always in the middle of a book or two, and I keep a journal. I’m typically at my happiest and my best when I’m performing, or when I spend time outside.

INE: In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field?
AM: Since I was a young girl, I’ve given much of my time towards a variety of service efforts, so I am thankful to the three organizations that I’m a part of for giving me multiple platforms to contribute in my own way. However, if I specifically have exerted any positive influence on my community, I think it would have stemmed from my work with children. In addition to student-teaching music and dance, I used to work with Kumon students, and I’m always so happy to see my kids doing well, or hear from their parents. I think it’s important for children to have a young person invested in their well-being who isn’t family, and is therefore able to connect with them on a different level. Looking back, I had many people like this in my life who, knowingly or unknowingly, influenced some of my decisions and shaped my path.

If I’ve positively served my community at all, through my words and my actions, I would say it’s been through the children I’ve been privileged to work with. Ultimately it’s a very small thing, but it gratifies me nonetheless.

INE: Your rare talent?
AM: Honestly, I have no idea. I can remember dance routines and song lyrics after one or two introductions. I can recall the exact pitch of any song I hear (well, usually!) and sing it in that same pitch. But these things aren’t rare. I think they’re just a result of my training.

INE: Your favorite books?
AM: I love classic literature and crazy plots, so I have many favorites, including children’s books, but the ones that just came to mind are Pride & Prejudice, The World According to Garp, Madame Bovary, and Jhumpa Lahiri’s series of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies.

INE: Your favorite quotes?
AM: My father applies a Malayali saying to everything. Roughly, it is this: “Too much honey can become poison”. It essentially means “everything in moderation”. In my sorority, we abide by the words of Swami Vivekananda: “Sincerity of conviction and purity of motive will surely gain the day; and even a small minority, armed with these, is surely destined to prevail against all odds.” It’s a reminder to be true to myself, especially in the face of opposition.

INE: Who inspires you the most?
AM: I actually received this question at the Miss India New England pageant last fall, and I have the same answer today as I did then: my great-grandmother. She was married too young, had many children, and was raised traditionally, but she was unbelievably open-minded and accepting for her time, encouraging all thought, speech, religions, and cultures. She was generous, often to a fault, and she was too kind. I never heard her speak ill of anybody. I wish I had even a tenth of the grace she possessed.

INE: Your core value you try to live by?
AM: I don’t really have a single core value. I just have certain ideas that I try to adopt in my life: loyalty, respect for tradition, tolerance for contemporary, and compassion and understanding.

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