Rachna Nivas

Rachna Nivas is a performing artist, choreographer, educator, community organizer, scholar, and activist of Indian classical art. She is one of the most accomplished kathak dance practitioners of her generation. A radical artist whose practice is both deeply protective of tradition but also interrogative, she keeps alive one of the most important lineages of classical Indian dance. Called by critics “revelatory”, “charismatic”, “a dancer who radiates power and grace”, her work is rooted in feminine consciousness and Eastern philosophies that challenges Eurocentric cultural paradigms. After rising to principal dancer in legendary master Chitresh Das’ acclaimed company for 15 years, she is now co-founder and co-artistic director of Leela Dance Collective and is building her own solo body of work in a generative chapter of her artistic journey. Rachna was a New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Dance Research Fellow which became the genesis of her newest solo work, ‘Reclaiming the Divine Feminine’. To complete this work, Rachna was awarded the 2023-24 CUNY Dance Initiative Residency. Her additional original works include ‘Unedited’, a risk-bound tour-de-force solo highlighting improvisation with live musicians; SPEAK, a cross-cultural collaboration bringing together leading women in kathak and tap,; Son of the Wind, a large-scale Ramayana dance drama. Notable tours of her works include LA’s Broad Stage and Ford Theaters, San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Mumbai’s Royal Opera House, New Delhi’s Epicenter, Maui Arts and Cultural Center, Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. As an educator and community organizer, Rachna is currently directing Leela New York’s thriving training institution. She has taught in numerous educational residencies, most notably at Verdon/Fosse Legacy, Kuperberg Center for the Arts, New Orleans’ Treme Center, Miami’s Conservatory of Arts.