Leela New York writes a new chapter of the story of Kathak in America. Brought from Calcutta to California in 1971, kathak planted new American roots that have flourished over the course of five decades. Now this extraordinary lineage takes its long overdue place in New York City – the dance capital of the world. Spearheaded in 2016 by Leela Dance Collective Artistic Director Rachna Nivas, Leela NY began as a grassroots initiative and quickly made an impact on NYC’s dance community through workshops, classes, and performances. With a dedicated core leadership team and a growing demand and interest in the art form, Leela NY established itself as an independent organization, fiscally sponsored by New York Foundation for the Arts. In 2021, Leela NY proudly joined forces with its sister schools in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver to form Leela Institute of Kathak, representing a unified, clairvoyant vision for the field of kathak dance.
Read more about our Lineage
Read more about our Approach
NYC Kathak Summer Immersion Program
Rolling Applications Open Until May 19, 2023
*Deadline extended. Accepted on a rolling basis.
A special opportunity to take a 3-week, in-person immersive in New York City with renowned kathak artist and sought- after teacher, Rachna Nivas, founding artist of Leela Institute of Kathak. Students will engage deeply with Leela’s curriculum, including rigorous training in kathak technique and movement, deep exploration and interplay with taal, study in abhinaya (art of mime and storytelling), and foundational lessons in North Indian classical music. Training on the dance floor will be complemented with education in Indian history and philosophy, special guest artist talks, and exclusive archival video viewing.
All levels are welcome to apply.
Aug 9 – Aug 30 | Mon – Fri | 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Ripley-Grier Studios | Midtown, Manhattan
Reclaiming the Divine Feminine
Rachna Nivas’ newest work-in-progress personifies the dark and mystical realm of tantra and its radical hailing of supreme feminine power – transcendent knowledge of non-duality that liberates only through full submersion into her wholeness. She is intoxicating and terrifying, ascetic and erotic, loving and rageful. She is the force that binds us and the force that sets us free.
Through kathak dance, live music, special lighting and set design, this work will haunt, provoke, and enchant while illuminating a woman’s treacherous path to transforming her shadows and reclaiming her wild limitless nature.
Original musical score composed by Jayanta Banerjee
Featuring live musical artists:
Jayanta Banerjee, sitar
Jay Gandhi, bansuri flute
Satyaprakash Misra, tabla
Jake Charkey, cello
New York Foundation for the Arts
Leela New York is proud to be fiscally sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, one of the most prestigious programs of its kind in the country. We are honored to be a part of the NYFA community alongside many other artists and arts organizations representing New York’s rich and vibrant artistic milieu.
With the support of NYFA we are advancing kathak dance and India’s rich artistic heritage and impacting students, artists, and audiences across the tri-state area.
Learn more about NYFA
Rachna Nivas (@rachnanivas) is an artist, choreographer, educator, and activist in Indian classical dance, bringing a relevant voice to kathak. She is a fierce and passionate performer, and a distinguished torchbearer of legendary master Pandit Chitresh Das’s treasured lineage. As a co-founder and artistic director of the Leela Dance Collective, she is currently touring her latest collaborative work SPEAK, bringing together leading women in kathak and tap and bridging South Asian and African-American art and heritage. She is also a co-creator of the large scale dance ballad, Son of the Wind, featuring 20 dancers and a live orchestra. Her original solo work, Meera, and her original youth ensemble work Stir, have both been featured at dance festivals across the country. Her works have been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, California Arts Council, and Zellerbach Family Foundation. Rachna is also Artistic Director of the Leela Youth Dance Company, shepherding excellence, leadership, and youth empowerment through art amongst teens. She is a senior faculty member of Leela Academy with 22 years of teaching and community organizing experience. Now splitting her time between California and New York and regular visits to teach and perform in India, Rachna is one of the most sought-after artists and teachers of her generation.
Meet Our Team
320 West 38th St. #1209
New York, New York 10018
” Leela allows dancers to find each other and follow the lineage that has transformed South Asian art in the US. It is a community of multiple dancers with the same vision…to serve students by facilitating collaboration, community, and growth. “
– Sneha B.
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