dancer choreographer entrepreneur educator
Rina Mehta brings to the art form of Kathak, classical dance of North India, a singular voice and vision. An artist and an entrepreneur she displays her depth of training with legendary Kathak master, Pt. Chitresh Das, on and off the dance floor. Mehta exhibits in her artistic work a deep grounding in tradition and a pioneering and searching spirit. Described as “regal” and “brilliant” by critics, her performances and artistic work are paving a path forward for the legacy of Pt. Chitresh Das and Kathak dance itself.
Rina is a founding artist of the Leela Dance Collective, which brings together leading artists from around the world to advance a collective vision for Kathak. Rina’s original works include SPEAK, a kathak-tap collaboration; Chandanbala, the story of the revered Jain saint interpreted through the Kathak tradition; and Son of the Wind, the story of the India’s mythological hero, Hanuman, brought to life through dance-drama. She has received funding to create and tour her
works by such prestigious institutions such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, New Music USA, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and the Zellerbach Family Fund.
Prior to her work with the Leela Dance Collective, Rina was a principal dancer with the Chitresh Das Dance Company, performing and touring with the company’s critically acclaimed productions including Shabd, Pancha Jati, and Sita Haran across the United States and in India. She has received the Alliance for California Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant and twice been nominated for an Isodara Duncan Dance Award for Company performance as part of the Chitresh Das Dance Company. She has performed at such prestigious venues/festivals nationally and in India as REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/Cal Arts 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, as a soloist and with the Chitresh Das Dance Company.
Rina has also been a dedicated kathak educator for more than 15 years. She is the founder of The Leela Academy, which provides comprehensive education in kathak dance to children, teens and adults in the greater Los Angeles area. In addition, she is a regular visiting educator at kathak institutions around the world including the Chhandam School of Kathak in San Francisco, Sureela Academy in Denver and Chhandam Nritya Bharati in Mumbai, India. Rina also teaches workshops and conducts lectures on kathak dance at colleges and universities such as UCLA, University of Denver, Chapman University and San Francisco State University. Most recently, Rina developed an arts education performance that introduces school children across Los Angeles county to the artistic and cultural heritage of India. The program is a part of the prestigious Music Center on Tour program.
Rina’s work is grounded in the belief that Kathak dance can be a powerful tool for empowerment and social change. She is the recipient of the prestigious Fulbright award and researched the effectiveness of Kathak dance education as a social intervention in underprivileged communities in Mumbai, India.
Rina’s most ambitious initiative is The Leela Endowment, the first and only initiative of its kind, aimed at providing the financial infrastructure necessary for dancers to thrive and continue to advance India’s rich artistic heritage.