Neena Marupudi, of Amarillo, Texas, has been named a co-recipient of The Johns Hopkins University's 2005 President's Commendation for Achievement in the Arts. She shares the award with graduating senior Katie Gradowski of Parkton, Md.
Each year, the President's Commendation is given to a graduating senior whose achievements exemplify the arts and service on campus. Marupudi submitted a DVD recording of a 25-minute solo Indian classical dance performance as well as dances she choreographed for JHU JOSH, an all-girl fusion dance team.
"The purpose of JOSH is to fuse different cultural elements such as Western and Eastern dance styles and music, with some portion of Indian music and dance," said Marupudi, who is captain of the team. "The team is truly where I placed the bulk of my commitment in choreography and also in actually getting the group started by making it an official group under the Student Activities Council and Performing Arts Council. These efforts were shared by Sneha Desai, a close friend and fellow dancer."
Marupudi has been dancing since she was 5, when she began studying tap, ballet, and jazz. When she was 7, she started training in two classical Indian dance styles, Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam. Marupudi is also a founding member of the dance group JHU Raas and Garba Explosion, or RAGE.
"What really set Neena apart was the fact that she used her skills not only to perform at university functions, but she also founded several dance troupes," said Julie Morgan, chair of the selection committee.
Marupudi will earn a bachelor's degree in neuroscience and anthropology in May and will also receive her master's degree in neuroscience. She plans to go to medical school next year at Penn State. She said she sees the award as an honor for Indian dance groups in general at Johns Hopkins.
"I don't think it's only recognition for me but recognition of all the people who have been a part of it," she said.
Marupudi is the daughter of Dr. Sambasiva Rao Marupudi and Mrs. Usha Marupudi. She is a graduate of Amarillo High School. To speak with her, contact Amy Cowles at 443-287-9960 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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