Leela Dance Collective Of Los Angeles Announces $1 Million Endowment Fund
Rukhmani Mehta. Photo: Leela Dance Collective
India-West Staff Reporter
LOS ANGELES, CA – Leela Dance Collective, the Los Angeles-based internationally-touring kathak dance company that combines classical dance from North India with contemporary influences, has announced that it has reached its initial $1 million goal for The Leela Foundation.
This endowment fund is the only one of its kind, designed to support the future of kathak dance and Hindustani classical music in the United States, a press release said.
Founded in 2016, Leela Dance Collective is a critically acclaimed dance company that advances kathak. Through traditional works and cross-genre collaborations, Leela brings the richness and depth of Indian classical dance to contemporary audiences.
Leela Dance Collective is led by the artistic direction of renowned kathak artists Rukhmani Mehta (previously Rina Mehta), Seibi Lee, and Rachna Nivas, and engages some of today’s leading dancers and musicians, as well as collaborative artists of other genres.
In 2016, Leela launched a campaign to establish The Leela Foundation, the first United States-based endowment for North Indian artistic and cultural heritage. The Leela Foundation aims to build the financial infrastructure necessary for kathak dance and Hindustani classical music to thrive for generations to come, through direct funding for artists in the form of salary support, fellowships, awards, and artist residencies.
“The leaders of Leela Dance Collective are dedicated to the future of our art form: to supporting our fellow professional dancers and musicians, to training the next generation of kathak artists, and to artistic excellence with our field,” said Mehta. “Currently, it is virtually impossible for kathak dancers and classical Indian musicians to pursue a full-time career in their chosen field. This lack of infrastructure is directly tied to the legacy of colonialism, particularly the British dismantling of Indian artistic and cultural traditions. We still feel the effects of these historical events more than a century later.”
“A $1 million endowment is modest in the world of philanthropy and Western fine arts, but huge for our field of kathak and Hindustani classical music,” continued Mehta. “So many incredibly talented and acclaimed classical Indian dance and music artists struggle to support their artistry and lives financially. This endowment fund aims to provide artists with the support they need to thrive and advance these art forms. Without such support, these artists and artistic traditions are at risk. I know this is just the beginning for what our community can build together, to secure and grow the future of our art form. We are so incredibly grateful to the individuals and funders who have helped us reach this initial goal.”
Lead contributors to the Leela Dance Collective endowment fund include:
Tarsadia Foundation, Shruti Mahajan & Kashyap Deorah, Ushakant & Irma Thakkar, Dinesh & Shaila Mehta, Yogesh & Bina Nivas, Amar & Vinita Singh,
Leah & Gary Schoolnik, Prabhu & Poonam Goel.