Rathna Kumar was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India in 1946. The oldest of five children, Kumar had a knack for learning that continues even today. Kumar is a polyglot, speaking: Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, and Kannada, among others. Ms. Kumar began practicing various forms of dance from an early age, and later became a dance instructor. After finishing her Bachelor's degree, Kumar began teaching English at the SIET Women's College in India. In 1975, Kumar met her husband, who had been studying medicine in Houston since the early 70s. Once in Houston, Kumar noticed that many individuals were interested in having their children learn Indian classical dance, but no such school existed in town at the time. Going out on a limb, Kumar opened the Anjali Center for Performing Arts. She still teaches dance at the Anjali Center, and is a member of numerous local performing arts organizations. She also teaches a dance class at Rice University.