Penny performing ‘Shakantula’ in New York

I never danced at Drake but I would dance around (laughs). I got involved in the city and in the Wiley House which was kind of segregated at the time and I wanted to get off campus. I did several things while I was there and met a lot of people. I would do all kinds of dances and I could pick up any kind of dance mostly because my parents would listen to all kinds of music going up, so I was familiar. I would try and bring people in and try and teach them something and that’s when someone said me, “You’re able to do all of this dance…too bad you can’t be in our dance.” And I thought, why not? And they it dawned on me, she’s looking at my face but I felt that the arts are universal. You shouldn’t draw a line. At Drake, because I had a classical dance background, which very few people did at the time, I was called to be at various dance events. Eventually I was called to Chicago to be in the Midwest Indian Student Association, which to me was a trip to Chicago! So I went to Chicago and danced there when someone saw me and put me in a play. He called me when I was back at Drake and said, “I’d like to use you in a play” and I told him he had the wrong person. At this point I’ve done some dance but I’ve never acted in my life but he reassured that it was me he wanted. He was located at an Illinois College and convinced me to dance and act in his play and they ended up taking the play to New York, which I also participated in. It was another one of those things just being at the right place at the right time.

 

Life After Drake