Updated: Feb 26
Though there was adversity, 2020 was also a year for new beginnings. Leela Foundation began its first programming in May 2020 with Leela Dance Company classes conducted by Vaibhav Arekar and his team of dancers. Technique was the focus of these classes, with the program was completely overseen by Vaibhav Arekar, the Artistic Director, Leela Dance Company and Founder of the Sankhya Dance Company in India. Developing well trained dancers for the Leela Dance Company is Vaibhav’s primary goal and he truly understands the long-term investment and dedication it takes for these dancers to perfect their craft.
During the summer, the Foundation formally launched with a workshop by Guru Kalayana Sundraram, where students got a glimpse into the Leela School’s wonderful lineage. The summer continued with the birth of the Baithak Series. These live performances, presented on Instagram with a post-performance discussion on Zoom, provide a platform for young professionals to highlight their art while inspiring young students to take their next bold steps into dance. Meanwhile, each performer is also supported by an honorarium to help support their professional practice.
The Leela Art Club, in collaboration with Sampada Agarwal was started in the late summer giving a new, fresh outlet to the visual arts. Through this program, the Foundation offered five sessions in 2020, two for Warli painting and two for Madhubani, and one Zentangle session.
In the fall, North Carolina Folklife Institute featured Leela Foundation in the Folklife from Home Video Project. This short video presents how traditional artists are pursuing their love of art and perfecting their work during this challenging pandemic period. This project was created with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and partners including North Carolina Arts Council. The Leela Foundation was truly honored to be able to share how the Foundation has moved forward during this unique time and how the arts persevere.
The Legacy Series began in December. Through this program, scholars, artists, writers and poets provide insight and perspective in their field of expertise through short talks. The first in the series was an Introduction to Contemporary Dance by Dr Naima Prevots who was the chair of the performing arts department at American University. The talk was moderated by Janet Lily who is the director of dance at UNCG.
Also that month, the Leela Foundation was invited by international Focus of Raleigh to be special guests at their first virtual art show spotlighting India. This gave a platform for the Foundation to showcase our dancers, share about the traditions associated with India and their significance, and highlight traditions unique to the practice of Bharata Natyam.
The Leela Foundation is looking forward to a wonderful 2021 with more programming and outreach to share traditional arts in the Triangle and beyond.