In October, AAWW in collaboration with the Leela Dance Collective presents BECOMING THE ARCHER: a conversation on classical dance and literature between world renowned Kathak artist Rachna Nivas and author of The Archer Shruti Swamy. The Archer tells the story of a dancer learning Kathak, one of eight Indian classical dance forms originating from the North of India thousands of years ago, with roots in both Hinduism and Islam. In this percussive dance form, dancers wear small bells (also called ghungroo) around their ankles to emphasize rhythmic foot movements and often use choreography to tell a story.
The talk will be followed by an introductory Kathak workshop by Leela Dance Collective dancer, Ria DasGupta, where participants will have the opportunity to begin their own Kathak journey with an introduction to the basic footwork, hand gestures, and movements of the dance.
This event will be live-streamed on Zoom. Please RSVP to receive the Zoom link via email. The talk will be uploaded to the AAWW YouTube channel the following week.
RACHNA NIVAS is an artist, choreographer, educator, and activist in Indian classical dance, bringing a relevant voice to kathak. Deemed “charismatic” and “revelatory” by the San Francisco Chronicle and featured in 2021 by Dance Magazine, she is one of the most sought-after kathak artists and educators of her generation. A distinguished torchbearer of legendary master Pandit Chitresh Das’ treasured lineage .Rachna is a fierce and passionate performer, a technical powerhouse with masterful creativity and infectious charm. She is a founding artist and artistic director of Leela Dance Collective, a nationally-based women-led and artist-led collective, producing powerful works by forward-thinking trailblazers in kathak dance. Currently, Rachna is leading and directing Leela New York, the newest chapter of Leela Institute of Kathak, bringing the teachings of her lineage for the first time to the greater New York Metro area.
SHRUTI SWAMY is the author of the story collection, A House Is a Body, which was a finalist for the PEN/Robert Bingham Prize, the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction, and longlisted for the Story Prize. Her work has been published by the Paris Review, McSweeney’s, and anthologized in the O. Henry Prize Stories. Her debut novel, The Archer, was published by Algonquin Books in September 2021. She lives in San Francisco.
RIA DASGUPTA is a junior faculty member at the Leela Institue of Kathak. She began teaching in 2017 with the Chhandam School of Kathak under the tutelage of Seibi Lee. She loves to teach beginner level adults and children and wants everyone to find the joy of dance! Ria has extensive training in kathak, modern, ballet, capoeira, and bharatanatyam. She is also an ensemble dancer with the Leela Dance Collective and a Chief Diversity Officer at Georgian Court University in New Jersey.