Ms. Rina D. Mehta
Specialization: Performance Art
Home institution in US: Chitresh Das Dance Company, San Francisco, California
Host Institution in India: Chhandam Nritya Bharati, Mumbai, Maharashtra    
Start date/Month in India: December 2012
Duration of grant: 5 months

Brief Bio:
Ms. Rina D. Mehta began her study of Kathak under Pandit Chitresh Das in 2000. Since joining the Chitresh Das Dance Company shortly after, she has performed in such critically-acclaimed productions as Pancha Jati, Shabd, and Sita Haran. She has twice been nominated for an Isodara Duncan Dance Award for company performance. She has performed at many prestigious venues and festivals in the U.S. and India: REDCAT in Los Angeles, University of Washington’s Meany Hall for Performing Arts in Seattle, University of California’s World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles, Tata Theatre/NCPA in Mumbai, and the Shaniwarwada Dance Festival in Pune. She is founder and director of Chhandam School of Kathak Dance, Los Angeles branch.

Ms. Mehta completed her M.A. in public health from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. Her M.A. thesis conducted a critical analysis of indicators used to measure empowerment of women in India. She has over ten years of experience in the field of women’s empowerment working with NGOs that serve populations as diverse as Asian American teenage girls, low-income immigrant women from Mexico and sex workers in India. Her work aims to combine her experience and expertise in dance and in the field of women’s empowerment to further the empowerment of girls and women worldwide.

Ms. Mehta’s Fulbright project, “Dance as Empowerment for Young Women in Mumbai and Kolkata,” will use participatory research methodologies to examine the impact of dance education on an individual’s self-esteem, academic achievement, social engagement and ultimately her sense of empowerment. This research will augment the body of literature examining effective strategies for women’s empowerment as a means of achieving a wide range of development and public health outcomes. She will share this work with dance institutions and organizations working to empower women across India, laying the groundwork for the future application of classical Indian dance beyond the domains of entertainment and in contexts as diverse as public health, development and social service.