Follow Sophia on Instagram at @sophiasalingaros and Facebook at “Sophia Salingaros.”

1. What is your background in both dance and medicine? Why did you decide to pursue these two disciplines? 

I started learning ballet when I was 5 and Bharatanatyam (an Indian classical dance style) when I was 9. Despite not knowing much about Indian culture at the time, I was drawn to the beauty and complexity of the style. My mother is a doctor, and I was going through the traditional pre-med route throughout college, though my love for dance continued to grow. Up until I applied for medical school, I was torn between dance and pursuing a medical career. Ultimately, I am determined to prove that you don’t have to give up what you love to pursue a career such as medicine! I performed nationally and internationally during my first year at Weill Cornell and am planning to continue pursing my two passions and exploring how they can intersect.

2. When was the first time you performed, and what part of that experience do you still carry with you?

My first performance was at the Diwali festival in my hometown of San Antonio, Texas. I was mesmerized by the costumes, jewelry, and makeup that we got to wear. I remember being so young that I had no concept of stage fright or critical judgement of my dance. I like to hold onto the childhood innocence and pure joy of movement that I experienced that day when I perform now as a professional dancer.

3. What are you working on now that combines your love of dance and medicine?How do you blend your work in these two fields?

I’m very interested in using the language of Indian classical dance to convey contemporary messages related to healthcare. For example, I’ve worked with Aseemkala initiatives to create pieces that discuss a patient’s right to DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders. I’ve additionally created work with IndianRaga attempting to destigmatize mental health issues. I feel art is a unique and powerful tool to send a message to an audience that no amount of data, publications or lectures can.

4. What is one concluding piece of advice you would share for those individuals who aspire to merge their passions for health and the performing arts?

I want to encourage every performing artist not to be overwhelmed by the thought of pursuing an extremely rigorous path – like medicine – and assume that there is no time to pursue artistic passions. There are many doctor/artists that have come before us, and with determination (and time management) I believe it is possible to maintain a professional level in both medicine and art. In fact, I think they complement each other; art makes you a more humane doctor, and medicine makes you a more introspective and analytical artist.

Dance Photos Credit: Chandrasekhar Panchavati