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SPEAK, a project of the Leela Dance Collective

featuring today's leading female tap and kathak artists in a sensational collaboration

The Latest Update

Music Feature/Interlude

Posted on January 24, 2019 by Leela Dance Collective

Again listen as all the melodic instruments add subtle texture to the sitarists introduction of the notes of the upcoming melody. Suddenly the tabla player launches into the rhythmic feel of the piece and each musician will then have their chance to shine as the mood shifts, swells and dissipates to accommodate each players style. Multiple sections are played in complete rhythmic unison, adding to the sense of unity within the group. Come see the show to enjoy the full musical score!

Latest Grants:

SPEAK received the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation grant for its first international tour to India in February 2019.

Speak is Touring India!

February 20, 2019
Royal Opera House
Mumbai, India

February 21, 2019
GD BIrla Sabhagar
Kolkata, India

February 24, 2019
Gurgaon, India

More Updates ▼

Music excerpt from SPEAK: Nine and a half

Posted on January 24, 2019 by Leela Dance Collective


Listen as both the sitarist and the pianist join together to create a compelling alap that flows in and out of the pulse, finding its way into the steadily driving and breathtakingly beautiful repeating melody. As the dancers join in, the rhythms become more complex and exciting, and the musical conversation develops between the shimmering sounds of the ghungroo and the tap shoes. Look out for the full musical score to be released in the near future!

Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and Michelle Dorrance in an exchange with Satyaprakash Mishra in SPEAK

Posted on January 19, 2019 by Leela Dance Collective

SPEAK co-creators Sumbry-Edwards and Dorrance join tabla artist, Satyaprakash Mishra for a sawaal-jawaab, playing with and interpreting the language of the tabla through the language of tap.

Rina Mehta and Michelle Dorrance in the Los Angeles premiere of SPEAK

Posted on January 19, 2019 by Leela Dance Collective

Kathak dancer Rina Mehta and Tap dancer Michelle Dorrance combined the traditional rhythmic elements of each dance form in a work created in the “rare 9.5 cycle”, a rhythm that is not common in western music.



Tap and kathak (classical dance of North India), continents and generations apart come together in this sensational collaboration led by Michelle Dorrance (tap), Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards (tap), Rina Mehta (kathak) and Rachna Nivas (kathak). A timely work that brings to life the idea of America through rhythm, dance and music, SPEAK carries forward the legacy of icons such as Pandit Chitresh Das, Dr. Jimmy Slyde and James Buster Brown, while bringing to the forefront the voices of powerful female artists. SPEAK features an original musical score developed by Carmen Staaf and Jayanta Banerjee that brings jazz into intimate conversation with North Indian classical music. Serving as the bridge between tradition and innovation, history and progress, the SPEAK artists create nothing short of magic on the stage.

Start and End Dates



Los Angeles, California

4 updates
Last update on January 24, 2019

Project Created By

Los Angeles, California
Great art requires us to be extraordinary. Extraordinary in our effort, in our courage, in our selflessness. The Leela Dance Collective brings together today’s leading Kathak artists to engage in the practice and creation of art that is at once grounded in tradition and boldly innovative. Artists at Leela strive to achieve technique at its…

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