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Asha Bala

Founder, Executive Director, The Leela Foundation

Recipient of the 2018 North Carolina Heritage Award, Asha Bala is deeply committed to using the transformative power of dance to touch as many lives as possible. She believes that dance and dancers with their tremendous powers to express and communicate can be agents of change in non- threatening yet deeply insightful ways.

The strength and beauty of Bharata Natyam make it a powerful weapon of change. As dancers of today, we have a responsibility to unearth this power and use it as a compelling tool for today’s informed and engaged audiences.

As Founder-Director of Leela Foundation, Asha is eager to take the institution and her dance into this new phase. Trained in the Thanjavur School of Bharata Natyam by the illustrious gurus of Sri Raja Rajeshwari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir in Mumbai, Asha holds an MFA in Bharata Natyam from Nalanda Nritya Mahavidyalay, and MA in Modern Dance from American University, Washington DC. With a firm grasp of the technique and a deep understanding of its history and philosophy, Asha is well equipped and poised to move this tradition into the millennium.

Knowing dance’s inherent connection with the allied arts of music, literature, and painting, Asha aims to heighten awareness of this interrelatedness by building alliances with artists of other disciplines.


Leela Foundation is Asha’s aspiration to create a space where artists, scholars, and students of all disciplines come together to create extraordinary works of art. The Foundation is an extension of Leela School of Dance where students of all ages receive comprehensive instruction in Bharata Natyam through a well-designed curriculum that combines in-depth instruction in dance techniques with music and theory.

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