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SANTA MONICA, CA: Leela Dance Collective and Salastina present "Encounters With Beauty" as part of the California Festival

SANTA MONICA, CA: Leela Dance Collective and Salastina present "Encounters With Beauty" as part of the California Festival


Leela Dance Collective


The Edye at the Broad Stage
1310 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401


Friday, November 10, 2023 - 8:00pm

Leela Dance Collective





Los Angeles, CA (August 22 , 2023) – Leela Dance Collective announces an exclusive preview performance of Encounters with Beauty, with the Salastina music ensemble, November 10 as part of The California Festival. Encounters with Beauty is a collaboration between Leela Dance Collective, an internationally-touring kathak dance company that combines classical dance from North India with contemporary influences, and Salastina, hailed as a visionary chamber ensemble. 

Encounters with Beauty is a collaborative work in which Indian classical dance meets Western contemporary chamber music. Conceived of and choreographed by kathak artists and Co-Artistic Directors of Leela Dance Collective Rukhmani Mehta and Seibi Lee, this work weaves together evocative sounds of the Salastina string quartet and Hindustani classical vocals with the percussive footwork and dramatic movement of kathak dance. Encounters With Beauty crosses genres, cultures, and communities.


Performance Details:

Encounters With Beauty 

Leela Dance Collective & Salastina as part of the California Festival 

Friday, November 10, 8pm 

Reception to follow. 


The Edye at the Broad Stage

1310 11th Street Santa Monica, CA 90401

In Person Tickets $40 ($10 student tickets)

Livestream Tickets $10 (livestream available through November 13, 2023)


Created by the LA Phil, San Francisco Symphony, and San Diego Symphony and including more than 50 organizations from across the state, the California Festival showcases music made in the last five years. The festival covers multiple forms of musical expression and honors California’s unique place in music and culture.

Leela Dance Collective artists for this performance include: Rukhmani Mehta, Joanna Meinl, Rachna NIvas, Carrie Jennings, Ahana Mukherjee, and Sonali Toppur. Salastina artists for this performance include: Kevin Kumar and Maia Jasper White (Co-Artistic Directors and Violinists), Meredith Crawford, (Resident Violinist), and Yoshika Masuda (Resident Cellist). Lead composers for this performance are Derrick Skye (American Mirror) and Reena Esmail (Beyond), among other contributors. 

“Collaborating with Salastina and working on this special preview of Encounters With Beauty has been an incredible journey for us,” shared Rukhmani Mehta, Artistic Director of Leela Dance Collective. “The creative process has pushed us outside of our comfort zone and fueled experimentation and innovation within our form of kathak dance. The end result is a genre-bending production that brings together artists and audiences across cultures and communities. We couldn’t be more excited about sharing this work at the California Festival.”

"Both American Mirror and Beyond are pieces of music we know well, and have performed and recorded many times. But performing them with Leela gives the music a brand new flavor, as well as a feeling of inevitability: it's as if the music was always meant to be accompanied by their choreography,” commented Maia Jasper White, Salastina Executive Director and Co-Artistic Director. “When the California Festival asked what Salastina's contribution might be, it was clear to us this was the most colorful, differentiating, and overall best possible choice."

This type of interdisciplinary performance is representative of Leela Dance Collective’s mission and artistry. Through traditional works and cross-genre collaborations, the Collective brings the richness and depth of Indian classical dance to contemporary audiences worldwide. Other notable original works include SPEAK, a kathak-tap dance collaboration featuring Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and Son of the Wind, the story of India’s mythological hero, Hanuman, brought to life through dance-drama.

Encounters With Beauty is commissioned, in part, by Newman Center for the Performing Arts.


About the Choreographers

Rukhmani Mehta (previously Rina Mehta) is Leela Dance Collective’s Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director, as well as choreographer and principal artist of this project. She has performed at such prestigious venues/festivals as REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater), Meany Hall for Performing Arts (University of Washington), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, UCLA’s World Festival of Sacred Music, Tata Theater/NCPA in Mumbai, and the Shaniwarwada Dance Festival in Pune. Her original works include SPEAK, a kathak-tap collaboration; Son of the Wind, a dance drama based on India’s epic, the Ramayana; and ReSound, a pop-up performance series. Her artistic works have been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, California Arts Council, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, and more. She has received the ACTA Apprenticeship Grant and has been twice nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award.

Seibi Lee is a consummate kathak artist known for her powerful mastery, refined musicality, and dramatic brilliance in character portrayal. A distinguished disciple of Pandit Chitresh Das, she is one of the founders of Leela Dance Collective. Seibi has toured worldwide earning accolades and deep respect for her artistry, including an Isadora Duncan Dance Special Award and two subsequent nominations. As principal dancer of the Chitresh Das Dance Company, Seibi evolved a singular perspective and style through the development of virtuosic character roles in several of Das’s critically acclaimed works, including the dual roles of the tormented demon Marich and beloved tribal prince Hanuman in Sita Haran. Her outstanding portrayal of Hanuman became the inspiration for the central character and creation of LDC’s Son of the Wind – the full-length dance drama bringing to life Hanuman’s rarely told heroic and valorous adventures from the epic Ramayana. 


About Kathak Dance 

Kathak is one of India’s eight classical dance forms and is said to have originated in Northern India around 400 BCE. The word kathak comes from the Sanskrit word katha, meaning story and a kathak dancer is referred to as kathaka, the one who tells a story. 

Modern day kathak is characterized by percussive footwork, swift pirouettes, dynamic movement, crisp stances, and expressive storytelling. Kathak dancers wear ghungroos, or ankle bells, that add musicality and ornamentation to their footwork and movements. While kathak is traditionally a solo art form that is performed along with a live Indian classical music trio or quartet in an intimate setting, today one often sees kathak dance in the context of group choreography and theatrical production. Like all Indian classical dance and music forms, kathak dance in its fullest capacity and potential is a spiritual path towards self-actualization and consciousness. 


About Leela Dance Collective 

Leela Dance Collective is an internationally touring dance company that advances kathak, classical dance from North India. Through traditional works and cross-genre collaborations, the Collective brings the richness and depth of Indian classical dance to contemporary audiences worldwide. Leela Dance Collective has garnered critical acclaim under the artistic direction of renowned kathak artists Seibi Lee, Rachna Nivas, and Rukhmani Mehta (previously Rina Mehta), and engages some of today’s leading dancers and musicians, as well as collaborative artists of other genres. Leela Dance Collective has created groundbreaking productions including SPEAK, Son of the Wind, ReSound, and more. Past highlights include appearances at Ford Theaters, The Broad Stage, Kimmel Center, the Green Music Center, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, National Center for the Performing Arts in Bombay, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, and NC State LIVE.


About Salastina 

Salastina offers a unique perspective on the chamber music genre with a range of live and virtual performances presented with the ensemble’s signature spirit of playfulness, curiosity, and heart. Salastina has been described as classical music’s wingman. By day, its resident artists are world-class performers and studio musicians who have played on scores for countless favorite films and television shows. By night, they are on a mission to broaden the definition of what classical music was, is, and can be. Additionally, Salastina won San Francisco Classical Voice’s Audience Choice Award. For more information, visit salastina.org.


Funding Credits 

Leela Dance Collective is supported by the California Arts Council, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, and New Music USA.



Leela Dance Collective; photo by Margo Moritz.


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