I had been traveling for a long time, not knowing where I was going. At times I felt lost, unsure of why I was traveling at all. At times I felt weary. One day, I felt it. A hint of a destination. Clarity passed through me for the briefest of moments. Hungry, I chased it. But it was gone and I felt lost and weary all over again. I had tasted hope, so I kept me going. And then it happened. Slow and fast. The truth unfurled inside of my very being. Awe and sorrow engulfed me. There it was; There she was. Within me and here all along. The destination; Devi. The mystery and potency that is the earth. The water that gives life and purifies. The fire that gives warmth. The fire that destroys. Death that gives life. Life that embraces death. Devi. She is me. I am her.
THIS WORK IS PRESENTED BY LEELA DANCE COLLECTIVE WITH SUPPORT FROM SAN FRANCISCO GRANTS FOR THE ARTS
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Rukhmani Mehta (formerly Rina Mehta) brings a singular voice and vision to the art form of kathak, classical dance of North India. A disciple of the legendary kathak master, Pt. Chitresh Das, her work demonstrates a firm grounding in tradition paired with an innovative spirit. Described as “regal” and “brilliant” by critics, her performances and artistic work are paving a path for kathak. Rukhmani 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. Rukhmani ’s original works include SPEAK, a kathak-tap collaboration; Son of the Wind, the story of India’s mythological hero, Hanuman, brought to life through dance-drama; and ReSound: Kathak in the Streets, a pop-up performance series. Her works have toured prestigious venues across the United States and India including NC State Live, The Broad Stage, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Green Music Center, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, National Centre for Performing Arts Mumbai, and more. She has received funding to create and tour her works by the National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, the California Arts Council and the Zellerbach Family Fund. Mehta is Artistic Director of the Leela Youth Dance Company, an elite pre-professional performing group that empowers young South Asian American women to develop their voices and serve as artists and leaders. The company has been featured at WorldWideWomen’s Girl’s Festival, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Philadelphia Youth Festival, and LA County’s Annual Televised Holiday Celebration. Rukhmani is a dedicated educator, regularly teaching at universities and dance institutions from around the world. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Fulbright award and researched the effectiveness of kathak dance education as a social intervention in underprivileged communities in India. Prior to her work with the Leela Dance Collective, Rukhmani was a principal dancer with the Chitresh Das Dance Company for over ten years, 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.
Accompanied by Jayanta Banerjee (sitar), Jay Gandhi (bansuri), and Satyaprakash Mishra (tabla)
Header Photo: Rukhmani Mehta by Abhijit Das