Leela’s pre-professional division (ages 13+) provides rigorous and comprehensive pre-professional training in kathak dance for teens and adults of all ages and backgrounds.
Students are introduced to basic kathak movement along with rhythm and music fundamentals. Upon completion of two semesters student have the opportunity to participate in a recital performance. Classes meet once a week over two 16-week semesters in the spring and fall.
Students focus on development of kathak technique including footwork and pirouettes, are introduced to foundational kathak vocabulary and begin to understand the intimate relationship of dance and music. In addition to twice a week classes ranging from 60-90 minutes, students participate in regular intensives with international dance and music faculty. Advancement is based on audition performance and participation in milestone performances.
Students with talent and dedication receive the opportunity to pursue pre-professional training in kathak. The training program focuses on ensuring that students develop advanced technique, an expansive vocabulary and repertoire, foundational skills in music and percussion, and strong performance skills. Students participate in weekly training in kathak and hindustani classical music, in immersive residencies that bring together dancers from around the world, and a range of pre-professional performance opportunities.
Level III-IV: Kathak Fundamentals
Level III-IV: Kathak Fundamentals
January 19-20, 2019
Start of Spring 2019 Session
April 11-14, 2019
Spring Intensive with Guest Artists Seema Mehta, Debashis Sarkar and Satyaprakash Mishra
April 18-21, 2019
Continuum, a festival of Indian classical dance and music, presented by the Chhandam School of Kathak at Z-Space in San Francisco, CA
May 18-19, 2019
Final Weekend of Spring 2019 Session
May 28-June 2, 2019
August 2-4, 2019
Annual Retreat hosted by Chhandam in the San Francisco Bay Area
The Leela Academy registers students for its year-round educational programs on a semester basis. Tuition is payable in full at the beginning of each semester by the first day of class. Payment plans are made available on a case-by-case basis. A $25 late fee will be charged for tuition paid more than seven days late. Students admitted 4 weeks or more after the semester has begun are eligible to pay a pro-rated amount upon approval of the bursar. Once classes have begun, tuition is not refundable. Students who miss class or withdraw before the end of the semester are still obligated for the full semester’s fees. Students are eligible for a pro-rated tuition refund only if they must withdraw from classes due to prolonged illness or severe injury, verified by a doctor’s certificate.Students with outstanding accounts will not be admitted to class.
Levels I-II $450
Levels III-IV $850
Advanced Study $950
Sprint Intensive 2019: $265
Students in Introductory Kathak and beyond are expected to wear a traditional salwar kameez that is fit comfortably and enables free movement. Simple and comfortable cotton salwar kameez’s are recommended.
Mid-length to long hair is require to be pulled back in a neat bun or french braid and fastened securely. Short hair needs to be fastened away from the face. Students/parents must be responsible for the necessary supplies to have hair done prior to class.
Q: Where are the classes offered?
The Leela Academy’s Children and Youth Division offers classes in Westlake Village at Ballet Arts, 31308 Via Colinas Ave., Suite 101-103. The Leela Academy’s Pre-Professional Division provides training for dedicated students in West LA at Soho Dance, 1618 Cotner Ave. The Leela Academy has also has affiliate schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Toronto, Denver and Mumbai, India. You can learn more about these affiliate schools here.
Q: What is the starting age for your classes?
Leela accepts students of all ages and abilities. Children can enroll in Leela’s Creative Movement classes at the age of 4. These classes are designed to provide children with an introduction to Indian classical dance and music in a fun environment. More structured training in kathak dance is offered to students ages 6 and above.
Q: I am 35 years old. Is it too late for me to start?
It’s never too late to start! We have students of all ages, including many mothers who are 30 and 40+. People join for different reasons and there is a niche for everyone at Leela.
Q: Can I start a class in mid-session?
Yes, absolutely. We welcome new students throughout the year and we will pro-rate your tuition accordingly.
Q: Do you have an annual recital or other performances?
Numerous performance opportunities are available to students at Leela. The school participates in a major production every two years. Past major productions include Ardhanari (presented at the Calabasas Performing Arts and Education Center) and Pragati (presented at the Irvine Barclay Theatre). These productions provide students with exposure to Indian classical dance and music at the highest caliber, allowing them to gain pre-professional stage experience. In addition, students have the opportunity to participate in numerous community performances throughout the year. In order to participate in performances, students must demonstrate strong knowledge and ability in the dance (as measure by annual assessments), consistent attendance and individual practice.
Q: How will you track my child’s progress?
Progress is tracked through annual assessments. These assessments test students’ foundational ability in the dance as well as their knowledge of repertoire. Leela’s curriculum is organized into eight levels, Levels I-VIII. Once a student passes their level specific assessment, they progress to the next level. Assessments are held annually. For assessment study guides, evaluation criteria and practice guides, visit Leela’s student center here.Note that there is an assessment fee of $75, to be paid at the time students register for their assessments.
Q: I am very serious about my child’s study of kathak and would like to fast track his/her progress. How can I do this?
Students who are interested in accelerating their progress can do so by taking advantage of all the supplemental educational programs offered by Leela. These include annual intensives, summer camps, annual assessments and performance opportunities. We consistently find that those students who are consistent in their attendance, individual practice and take full advantage of supplemental activities progress at an accelerated rate.
Q: Do you offer private classes?
Leela offers private classes to enrolled students on a case-by-case basis. If you are interested in private classes, please inquire with your teacher.
Q: I or (my daughter/son) has had some previous dance experience, can they start at the next level?
We require all new students at Leela to start in the Level I or II class (depending on age), regardless of prior training, as material and techniques do vary from gharanas. We place a strong importance on students attaining a solid foundation in kathak technique, taal and soor. It is important to note that students with prior dance experience do tend to progress faster than others if they are consistent in their attendance and individual practice.
Q: When will my child get ghungroo?
At Leela we treat our ghungroo with a high degree of reverence. Students earn their ghungroo by demonstrating dedication and serious study. Once students have completed Levels I and II and demonstrated their progress by successfully completing their Level II assessment, they are ready to receive their ghungroo. Students at Leela make their own ghungroo and are officially given the ghungroo in a ceremony officiated by their teacher. This ceremony initiates the student into their study of kathak and formalizes the relationship between teacher and student.
Q: How do I register for classes?
For registration information, click here.
Q: How much is the tuition?
For tuition and fee details click on the tuition and fee tab.
Q: Can my child or I try a class before enrolling?
Yes. All new students are encouraged to attend a free trial class. This allows for the child and the parent to assess their level of interest in kathak, meet the Leela student and parent community and meet the class teacher.
Q: Are there any discounts available?
A family discount of 20% is applicable to the second immediate family member taking a class within the same session.
Q: How do I make up for missed classes?
Students may make up a missed class by attending a class of a comparable level. Missed classes must be made-up within the same session and will not be credited to the following session.
Q: Can I video the classes so that my I/my child can practice at home?
A critical skill for all kathak dancers is the ability of to improvise. Improvising requires a highly aware and attuned mind, as well as the ability to grasp and retain material quickly. At Leela we aim to begin developing this skill early. Utilizing videos as an aid to learning interferes with the ability to train a sharp mind and memory. As a result, we do not allow students or parents to video classes. We do however have ample tools and materials to help students in their study and practice. These materials are available on our website, here.