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.
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We are proud to bring world class education and performances of Indian classical dance and music to students, families and communities across the Tri-State Area.
Attend weekly classes, local performances, or participate in our various workshops and immersive learning opportunities
Leela Dance Collective
Learn more about our critically acclaimed, internationally touring dance company and attend a performance near you
Make a contribution and help build the first self-standing endowment for Indian classical dance and music
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.