New book: Celebrate Neurodiversity!
Sign up for updates and more!
Niveditha Shetty Hegde and Ishanvi Hegde, a mother and daughter dancing duo and YouTube sensation, explore their Indian culture and history – and bring smiles to families around the world.
Get to know Neha Jogani Narang, who brought us the story of Niveditha Shetty Hegde and Ishanvi Hegde. Hear about the coolest thing Neha gets to do as the Chief Marketing Officer at Roblox, and her love of Indian dance just like Niveditha!
This podcast is a production of Rebel Girls. It’s based on the book series Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. This story was produced by Joy Smith with sound design and mixing by Mumble Media. It was written by Emily McMahon-Wattez and edited by Abby Sher. Fact-checking by Joe Rhatigan. Narration by Neha Jogani Narang. Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi. Our executive producers were Joy Smith and Jes Wolfe. Thank you to the whole Rebel Girls team who make this podcast possible. Stay rebel!
Niveditha and her young daughter Ishanvi landed their final twirl in perfect unison, their skirts trailing through the air, as light as the wind.
From behind the camera, Srinidhi applauded for his wife and daughter.
“Papa! I’m even better than Mumma now, right?” Ishanvi asked her father. Both of her parents laughed. They knew how competitive she could be. Together, they watched the video they had just recorded.
“Hmmm, should we try it one more time?” Niveditha suggested.
“Yes, let’s do it again!” Ishanvi hopped with excitement, spinning to watch the skirt of her lehenga sparkle in the sunlight. No matter how many times they recorded the same dance, she never got tired of performing with her mother. It was so much fun!Little did she know, though, that at the age of six, she and her mother dancing together was already starting a global movement.
I’m Neha Jogani Narang. And I’m Saanya, Neha’s daughter.
And this is Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.
A fairy tale podcast about the real-life rebel women who inspire us.
On this episode, Niveditha Shetty Hegde and Ishanvi Hegde, a mother and daughter dancing duo and YouTube sensation, who explore their Indian culture and history – and bring smiles to families around the world.
Niveditha Hegde grew up in the Kodagu District in the Southern tip of India. From the time she was very young, Niveditha loved to dance. There was something about the intricate dances of her culture that she found irresistible. Maybe it was all the magnificent clothing, like elaborately embroidered saris or robes, patterned salwar kameez which are long tunic shirts over matching pants, and full-skirted lehenga choli, or dresses. Or maybe it was about the grace and poise of each posture — the precise motions of their hand gestures, or the tinkle of the little bells called Ghunghroo, worn around their ankles. Whatever it was, when you put it all together, it was magic. The dancers of Niveditha’s home country told exciting stories using movements and expressions, and she loved all of it.
Niveditha studied Bharatanatyam, which is a style of dance and a word that translates to ‘the combination of expression, rhythm, music and dance’. Niveditha loved it, but she never thought of doing it as a profession. She had big plans for her career and eventually, dancing fell to the wayside – her days were full with schooling and training to become an orthodontist.
Niveditha loved to help shape her patient’s beautiful smiles and build their confidence. She worked very long hours, and felt like what she did as an orthodontist was fulfilling. Still, there was part of her that always wondered where that rhythm and music was inside of her…
Niveditha and her husband, Srinidhi, had a baby girl in 2014, and they named her Ishanvi, for the Goddess of Knowledge. When Ishanvi was still a toddler, the family moved far away from India, to a city called Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.There are millions people living in Abu Dhabi, which means there are a lot of people who might need Niveditha’s orthodontics! But this giant bustling city built right on the edge of the Persian Gulf, was very different from her rural hometown in India, which is known for its thick forests where tigers and elephants roam.
Niveditha loved her job, and exploring the city was exciting, but she did miss India, and she wanted to make sure that she and her growing family stayed connected to their culture. Niveditha always said dancing was her happiness-therapy. So, she decided to try it again, just for fun.
Niveditha learned to choreograph her own dances, inspired by the traditional classical dance forms of her country, and by the popular dance moves in Bollywood movies. She designed beautiful clothing, made especially for each dance, and asked her husband to record herself and a friend performing them, so she could post them on YouTube to share with their friends and family.
With her long work hours, it was hard to find the time for dancing. But when you love something, it can bring you so much energy and joy!
Little Ishanvi loved to dance, too. Whenever she saw her mother practicing, she’d try to follow along – and she was really good! There was a camera at Ishanvi’s daycare, and Niveditha liked to watch the live feed during her breaks at work, to see what her daughter was up to. One day, she saw Ishanvi dancing to a nursery rhyme in perfect rhythm, and she had an idea…
At home, Niveditha was working on a patriotic dance called ‘Jaaga Hindustan’. She decided to teach some of her choreography to Ishanvi, who was only four years old at the time. They filmed themselves dancing together, wearing matching salwar kameez made from a beautiful flowing white material, and bright sashes, striped in the colors of the Indian flag – orange, white and green. After Niveditha posted the video online, it became a huge hit! People especially loved Ishanvi’s perfectly-timed dancing and adorable expressions.
Niveditha realized that by posting their videos online, she wasn’t just sharing her culture and history with her own daughter, she was sharing this joy with mothers and daughters all around the world.
In the last few years, Niveditha and Ishanvi have posted over a hundred new videos and people love watching them! Each one is a thoughtfully choreographed dance, with beautiful matching outfits that Niveditha designs herself. And she even started her own company called Fluttertales with a friend who is a fashion designer, where she sells some of these gorgeous designs.
It’s clear that this extraordinary mother-daughter duo loves what they do – each dance they perform is creative and unique and helps tell ancient stories from Indian history and culture. And their fun is contagious! Niveditha and Ishanvi inspire countless viewers to try new moves and dance on their own!
Back at home, Niveditha has just come in after a full day of work and is looking forward to sharing something special with her daughter:
“Alright, Ishanvi, I have a new dance to teach you. Are you ready to learn?”
“I’m always ready! Papa, get your camera! We’re going to dance!”