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, with noted disciples including Pandit Rajeev Taranath, George Ruckert, Gretchen Hayden and Steve Oda, and most recently, with retired baiji performing artist Madhuri Devi Singh.
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 co-editor of Music and Dance as Everyday South Asia (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2023), a 30-chapter volume emphasizing the diversity of music and dance practices and their varied significances in South Asian and diasporic communities. She is also the author of the Instructor’s Manual for the college-level world music textbook Soundscapes (W.W. Norton, 3rd ed.) and is preparing the Bloomsbury Handbook of Ethnomusicology, co-edited by Sarah Weiss.
As a performer, Sarah is a founding member of the Leela Dance Collective, which brings together leading kathak artists around the U.S., 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 Leela Denver, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization teaching kathak in Colorado. She currently serves on the Boards of the Society for Asian Music and the Chhandam Chitresh Das Dance Company and on the Editorial Board for the journal South Asian Dance Intersections.
- Ph.D., Ethnomusicology, Harvard University, 2007
- BA, Music and Russian, Dickinson College, 1995
- Society for Ethnomusicology
- Society for Asian Music