A Field-Wide Approach
Leela Institute of Kathak uses an integrated, field-wide approach that includes three main components to advance India’s rich artistic traditions.
- Our critically acclaimed dance company, the Leela Dance Collective, establishes Indian classical dance on the world stage by supporting the creation and performance of cutting edge works of kathak dance.
- The Leela Academy provides world-class education and pre-professional training in kathak to dedicated and talented children and youth, and adults.
- The Leela Foundation provides the financial infrastructure that is critical for the viability and sustainability of India’s artistic and cultural heritage.
The Meaning of Leela
Leela, loosely translated as ‘divine play’, is a core concept in Indian philosophy and spirituality. Looked at more deeply, the word Leela connotes many shades and nuances of meaning. Indian philosophers have expounded at great length on the subject. Most relevant to Indian classical dance and music is the understand of Leela as the spontaneous outflow of creativity that comes from being in a pure state of joy.
“The purpose of creation, is lila…Lila is a purpose-less purpose, a natural outflow, a spontaneous self-manifestation of the Divine.”
– Sri Aurobindo
“The world is a mere spontaneous creation of Brahman. It is a Lila, or sport, of Brahman. It is created out of Bliss, by Bliss, and for Bliss.”
-Ram Shanker Misra
At the heart of Leela’s work are a set of values and guiding principles that inform the organization’s programmatic strategies as well as operating practices.
Advance the universal value of kathak
Place artists at the center of our work
Elevate the standard of the art
Ground our work in the practice of collective creativity
Innovate while remaining grounded in tradition
Transform the field of kathak and beyond
A ghungroo is one of many small metallic bells strung together to form ghungroos- musical anklets tied to the feet of classical Indian dancers. A string of ghungroos can range from 100 to greater than 200 bells knotted together. In kathak, ghungroos serve to accentuate the complex, rhythmic footwork and movement of the dancer.
At Leela, ghungroos are conferred upon students by their teacher in a special ceremony after years of study. The ceremony initiates the student into the tradition of kathak dance and cements the sacred bond between teacher and student. Ghungroos accompany the student – literally and metaphorically – every step of the way along their journey in the dance. Ultimately ghungroos become an inseparable part of a dancer’s expression and the dance.
Each year the Leela Institute of Kathak publishes a series of reports and financial statements that provide audiences, patrons and stakeholders with an understanding of the organization’s work, mission impact and financial health. Click below to browse our annual reports, financial statements and policies, tax filings and more.