Rukhmani Mehta (previously 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 forward for the art form of 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. Her 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 Encounters with Beauty (in development), a collaboration that engages kathak dance in conversation with Western classical chamber music. Her works have toured at prestigious venues across the United States and India such as 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 from the National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, the California Arts Council and the Zellerbach Family Fund.
Mehta is Artistic Director of 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 Leela Youth Dance 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 also a dedicated educator, regularly teaching at universities and dance institutions from around the world, and the recipient of the prestigious Fulbright award in Dance for research on 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 (under the name Rina Mehta) 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.