Shilpa began training in Kuchipudi at the age of 8 with Ms. Sasikala Penumarthy at the Academy of Kuchipudi Dance and performed her solo debut recital—her Rangapravesham—in 2011 with Ms. Anuradha Nehru and Mr. Kishore Mosalikanti at the Kalanidhi Dance school.
Captivated by the power of dance, Shilpa began to use it as a tool for community development. She spent her summers in college teaching dance to inner-city youth in Schenectady; she had an internship in Dance Movement Therapy at Ellis Hospital; and she taught refugee women to share their traditional dances in a weekly women’s group in Albany called RISSE. In her senior year at Union College, she directed and choreographed Anamika, a mixed-media piece that combined ballet, praise dancing, and Kuchipudi, to serve as a call to action against the harms of human trafficking. Anamika’s value extended beyond its role as a work of art—it served to demonstrate how various social justice activists and kind souls could use their bodies and dances to tell one single human story.
In 2013, Shilpa was the recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study the connection between traditional dance cultures of the world, their healing systems, and their current states of healthcare delivery. She has performed at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (2014) and at the International Dance Festival in Fes, Morocco (2015). She is also the 2016-2017 Artist-in-Residence for the American Medical Women’s Association. She recently conducted arts-based health literacy research on cervical cancer with the Shipibo-Konibo people of Yarinacocha, Peru as an ASTMH Kean Fellow.
Shilpa was awarded the Vivian Shih GME Scholarship by the American Medical Women’s Association, through which she created the Race.Culture.OBGYN project and the Reimagining Medicine Festival. She served as the AMWA Dance and Theater Task Force founder and co-director until 2019, she has published in several journals on the relationship between arts, dance and medicine, and presented at national conferences. She is a member of both the Gold Humanism Honor Society and Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. Shilpa completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, where she received recognition by both her residents and the medical students for her teaching skills and efforts. Currently, she is a GOG Research/Academic OBGYN fellow at UNC, completing her MSCR at the Gillings School of Epidemiology.
Her greatest passion is creating a space for other artist-scientist-physicians to explore this intersection of human rights, cultural narratives, and health justice in medicine.