The Leela Dance Collective’s vision is inspired in large part by the vision of Smt. Nilima Das, founder of Nritya Bharati, one of India’s leading dance, music, and fine arts institutions during the mid-20th century. As India fought for and won its independence from British rule – a regime that systematically marginalized the subcontinent’s rich artistic heritage – Nritya Bharati was at the center of a great renaissance for Indian art. Smt. Nilima Das’ son, Chitresh Das, was born in the midst of this renaissance and grew to become one of India’s foremost kathak artists. He pioneered the art form’s spread in the West, founding the Chitresh Das Dance Company and the Chhandam School of Kathak in San Francisco in 1979. Between 1979 and 2015, Das created more than 50 artistic works that toured around the world to critical acclaim and trained a new generation of kathak dancers that have gone on to boast successful careers of their own. The principal artists of Leela are proud senior disciples of Das and are dedicated to preserving the rich legacy they have inherited while continuing to advance the art form of kathak.