encounters with beauty

Indian classical dance meets Western classical chamber music in Leela Dance Collective’s new collaborative work featuring Salastina and music by composers including Derrick Skye and Reena Esmail.

“Collaboration asks you to step outside of your comfort zone, reach and connect
across differences, and expand your art practice. At Leela, collaboration is how we rediscover
and remake our art and ourselves.” 

– Rukhmani Mehta, Artistic Director 

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 About Encounters with Beauty

Commissioned in part by Newman Center for the Performing Arts

Indian classical dance meets Western classical chamber music in Leela Dance Collective’s new collaborative work. Conceived of by kathak artists Rukhmani Mehta and Seibi Lee, this work weaves together evocative sounds of the string quartet and Hindustani classical vocals with the percussive footwork and dramatic movement of kathak dance. Commissioned in part by The Newman Center for the Performing Arts, Encounters With Beauty crosses genres, cultures, and communities.

Original Musical Cast

String Quartet: Salastina
Vocals: Saili Oak
Composers: Derrick Skye, Reena Esmail 


National Endowment for the Arts
California Arts Council
Department of Cultural Affairs

Show Information  

Run Time: 75 minutes
Cast: 5 dancers, 5 musicians
Concept: Rukhmani Mehta 
Choreography:  Rukhmani Mehta, Seibi Lee
Composers: Derrick Skye, Reena Esmail
Performers: Leela Dance Collective, Salastina, Saili Oak


Booking Information: 

Carrie Jennings
Bookings Manager



About the Musical Score

The music of Encounters With Beauty comes from two bodies of work featuring composers Derrick Skye and Reena Esmail. Skye’s American Mirror is a stunning soundscape that reflects the diverse traditions of American music. Beyond, an album by Saili Oak and Salastina, expertly interweaves Hindustani vocal music with a Western classical string quartet through the work of various composers including Reena Esmail. 

Derrick Skye is a composer and musician based in the Los Angeles area who often integrates music practices from different cultural traditions around the world into his work with classical music communities. Listen to Derrick Skye’s American Mirror 

Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, bringing communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces. Listen to Reena Esmail’s Magan Rehna from Beyond.

Selected Press

“The Artistic Directors of Leela Dance Collective have chosen an ambitious mission, to honor ancient traditions and bring them forward, made relevant to the present. There is no question that they are successful.”

– Mary Pat Cooney,  LA Dance Chronicle

“As cacophony assaults us from all sides, Salastina keeps the flame of actual music burning bright.”

– David Ehrenstein, LA Weekly 

“Introspective. Dedicated. Fiercely Determined. That’s Saili Oak, a young, talented vocalist from the Jaipur gharana.”

– Ranju Ganesan, In the Company of a Musician

“…[Reena Esmail is] obviously fiercely brilliant and a gifted musician, but what makes her music special is the fact that she’s able to channel this incredible empathy and complex understanding of the human experience into music that’s crystal clear, beautiful, thought-provoking and unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.”  

– Grant Gershon, as told to Catherine Womack, Los Angeles Times

“… Derrick Skye has been honored with the prestigious 2021 Princess Grace Award Honoraria in theater. The composer, who merges music, text, movement, and film, is noted for work that is cross cultural, cross genre, and multi-disciplinary.”

– A.A. Cristi, Broadway World

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