Pallavi Phene is a Technical Program Manager at Google and a student at Leela Academy. She is an athlete and creator at heart and loves playing sports, baking, and crafting. We spoke with Pallavi about why it’s important to her to support Leela Foundation as a donor.
I was introduced to kathak somewhere between the ages of 8-10 back in Indonesia, where I grew up. Access to a classical dance form, along with passionate teachers, was very limited in South-east Asia and after barely learning ta-thei-thei-tat-a-thei-thei-tat for about three months, my education came to an abrupt stop. But the awe of the dance form and the desire to learn remained. Fast forward a few decades and following some reflection during the pandemic, I’m back on my kathak journey.
Leela came highly recommended through a very close (non-kathak) dancer friend of mine. Before I started, I knew that rapid fast footwork and chakkars, mesmerizing choreography, and the innovative work of kathak yoga were all part of the Leela repertoire – all indicative of a great dance company.
What got me to stay was the focus on education, which was evident via the first few zoom sessions. Kathak is hard in itself and teaching kathak is a notch higher. It takes a certain kind of dedication, discipline, and an openness to teach any willing student to sustain this profession.
It was evident to me from the start that teaching kathak was not something that the teachers at Leela were doing as an add-on to the dance company. All the teachers I worked with – Seibi didi, Poonam didi, Ahana didi, Ria didi – have demonstrated a dedication and passion for teaching. They really enjoy doing it and want, with all their heart, to pass on the learnings to future generations. This passion and grit is what I truly love about Leela Academy.
Why is it important to you to support Leela?
I’ve been a part of multiple non-profits over the years, and I realize how hard it is to run one. The effort spent in fundraising, judiciously managing those funds and running a financially responsible institute, just to know that you will be back again where you started at the beginning of next year is tremendous. I’m happy to help Leela’s efforts towards getting to financial sustainability via the endowment, and support this wonderful community.
This is a community that is built with such dedicated artists, whose time is probably better spent doing what it is that they do best – dancing, practicing, performing, bringing the art form in front of new audiences, and passing on the tradition by teaching!
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