Sarah Morelli

Sarah L. Morelli

Associate Professor

Professional Biography

Sarah Morelli is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music (Ph.D. Harvard, 2007). Active as a scholar and performer, her work draws on training with Hindustani music maestro Ali Akbar Khan (voice and sarod), with kathak dance master Pandit Chitresh Das, and with noted disciples including Pandit Rajeev Taranath, George Ruckert, Gretchen Hayden and Steve Oda.
Her monograph, A Guru’s Journey: Pandit Chitresh Das and Indian Classical Dance in Diaspora (University of Illinois Press, 2019), is an ethnographic account of Pandit Das’s dance company and school, his unique contributions to kathak, and processes of culture-change in artistic diasporas. This research has also led to publications in The Music of Multicultural America: Performance, Identity, and Community in the United States, Anthropological Notebooks, and College Music Symposium Forums. Sarah is also the author of the Instructor’s Manual for the college-level world music textbook Soundscapes (W.W. Norton, 3rd ed.) and is currently co-editing Music and Dance as Everyday South Asia, a volume emphasizing the diversity of music and dance practices in South Asia and diasporic communities.
As a performer, Sarah is a founding member of the Leela Dance Collective, which brings together leading kathak artists working collaboratively to advance a collective vision for kathak’s future. Her kathak performances have included full solos and leading roles in productions in U.S. and India at venues such as Mumbai’s Royal Opera House, LA’s Ford Amphitheatre, and Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. Sarah is founder and artistic director of the Sureela Academy of Kathak in Denver, CO and currently serves on the Boards of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the Society for Asian Music, and the Chhandam Chitresh Das Dance Company.

Degree(s)

  • Ph.D., Ethnomusicology, Harvard University, 2007
  • BA, Music and Russian, Dickinson College, 1995

Professional Affiliations

  • Society for Ethnomusicology

Performances

Sarah L. Morelli, Continuum Festival of North Indian Classical Music & Dance, Sarah Morelli, solo, San Francisco, CA, USA, Chhandam School of Kathak Dance, 1970.
Sarah L. Morelli, Son of the Wind, Leela Dance Collective, Hollywood, CA, USA, Ford Theatres, 1970.
Sarah L. Morelli, Son of the Wind, Leela Dance Collective, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA, Agama Festival, 1970.
Sarah L. Morelli, Son of the Wind, Leela Dance Collective, Mumbai, India, 2019.
Sarah L. Morelli, Son of the Wind, Leela Dance, San Francisco, CA, USA, Chhandam and Leela Institute for the Arts, 2018.
Sarah L. Morelli, Pilgrimage - Initial Performance of a Rajasthani Collaboration, Leela Dance Collective with Hindustani classical and Rajasthani folk musicians, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, State Bank of India, 2018.
Sarah L. Morelli, Solo performance, Sarah Morelli and accompanying musicians David Trasoff (sarod) and Vivek Virani (tabla), Denver, CO, USA, Society for Ethnomusicology, Local Arrangements Committee, 2017.
Sarah L. Morelli, Pragati featuring performances by the Leela Dance Collective and Mallika Sarabhai and Ensemble, Leela Dance Collective, Irvine, CA, Leela Institute for the Arts, 1970.
Sarah L. Morelli, Solo performance, Sarah Morelli and accompanying musicians David Trasoff (sarod) and Vivek Virani (tabla), Denver, CO, USA, Society for Ethnomusicology, Local Arrangements Committee, 2017.
Sarah L. Morelli, Ardhanari: Evoking Ancient India in our Modern World, Leela Dance Collective, Calabasas, CA, The Leela Institute for the Arts, 1970.

Presentations

Morelli, Sarah L. “Technique And Gender Expression In Kathak Dance Dramas/Técnicas Y Expresión De Género En Dramas De La Danza Kathak” Second International Colloquium Of Ethnochoreology, Puebla, Mexico, the College of Ethnochoreology at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP), 2019.
Morelli, Sarah L. “Participant-Observation On The Professional Stage: ‘Becoming The Character’ In Kathak Dance” International Council For Traditional Music Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, International Council for Traditional Music, 2019.
Morelli, Sarah L. “At The Nexus Of Music And Dance: Examining North Indian Classical Sangeet” First International Colloquium Of Ethnochoreology, Puebla, Mexico, College of Ethnochoreology at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, 2018.
Morelli, Sarah L. “"Ethnomusicology And Educating Global Citizens"” Cultural Diplomacy Event, University of Denver, Korbel School of International Studies, 2018.
Morelli, Sarah L. “Performing Excess: Virtuosity And Athleticism As Gendered Power In Kathak, North Indian Classical Dance” Society For Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., Society for Ethnomusicology, 2016.
Morelli, Sarah L. ““Sonic Storytelling: Percussive Footwork And Nritya In North Indian Kathak”” Conference On The Music Of South, Central And West Asia, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University, 2016.
Morelli, Sarah L. “Hip Hop In Korea: A Look At Its Beginnings” Sankofa Lecture Series, Denver, CO, Metropolitan State University of Denver, 2013.