It all started with Bollywood dancing.
Lalitha Ravi, trained in Indian classical dance and music, jumped at the chance, offered by former IFLC board member Chandru Acharya, to use her love for dancing to give Religious Diversity Journey students a lively and expressive taste of Indian culture.
Born in Bahrain, Ravi grew up in India, and earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food science. She married at 20, and went to Germany with her husband, Ravi Gopal, who was working for Ford, eventually coming to the United States in 1996. She then earned a master’s in nutrition food science at Wayne State University and graduated from a University of Michigan internship program in dietetics. Ravi is a registered dietitian.
A few years ago, with two young sons, she decided that she had to choose between nutrition and dance and music.
“I decided that if I stopped singing, I would not be a very pleasing to know, but if I stopped talking I would be ok,” laughs Ravi. “The kids were growing up and I wanted to be home and it worked out perfect.”
Ravi founded and now runs The School of World Music & Dance, a non-profit that trains students in Carnatic (South Indian classical music) vocal, instrumental music and Bharathanatyam (South Indian classical dance).
With more than 12 years of teaching and 25 years of performing experience, Ravi’s passion is coming up with creative ideas of presenting her dance and music shows, choreographing dance shows for community events, cultural programs, and professional shows in and around the metropolitan city of Detroit.
After teaching Bollywood dancing to the RDJ students, Ravi was intrigued with the idea of sharing her religion and culture, and Acharya connected her with IFLC leaders.
“It just fell in place,” says Ravi, of becoming an IFLC board member, and having the opportunity to share her culture and Hindu religion with others. “I truly respect every religion, every culture. Everybody needs to have the identity that they get from their roots. And if you don’t have an identity for yourself, you don’t have a values system. For me that is my culture, my heritage, and my religion. I Realize that this is all the same after all, we just do it differently. We celebrate Diwali and they celebrate Christmas and it all boils down to the same thing. Since I felt that there are definitely others out there that cherish their own tradition. I thought I would be a good fit.”
Ultimately, the most important values for her, says Ravi are “Being grateful, being happy, being positive, empowering people, being able to lead people.”
She enjoys interacting with the people, and telling them about the festivals in India. And she hopes to work on an interfaith peace program.
She also writes about her passions, dance, and nutrition, sharing information through social media, and is thinking about writing a book. Ultimately, Ravi’s interest is a holistic approach to life, a spiritual approach to eating well while still enjoying one’s culture, eating to support dance, the spiritual aspects of dance.
“I want to write more on nutrition and lifestyle changes and grooming yourself to a better person all ways and means, be it in art, be it in social life, being in your culture. A little bit of everything.”