Dancer Spotlight Rashi Birla

By on Jun 26, 2014

Rashi_headshotMeet Associate Artistic Director, Rashi Birla

Rashi has trained in both western and eastern styles of dance including Kathak with Pandit Chitresh Das, Bollywood, jazz, tap, modern and hip-hop.  Rashi previously danced nationally as a principle dancer and dance instructor with blue13, a dance company known for its signature contemporary styles inspired by Indian dance. Notable performances include the Ford Theater in Los Angeles, the Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. She choreographed her collegiate dance team in UCLA to a national title in April 2007.

We Interviewed Rashi…


1. What is your dance background?

I started learning Kathak with Pandit Chitresh Das at a pretty young age and danced with him for 8 years. Then I started dancing competitively in jazz, tap, and hip hop at a local dance studio where I grew up in California. At UCLA, I started focusing more on Bollywood dance when I became captain of our Hindi Film dance team, Nashaa. After graduating, I danced with with blue13, a contemporary Indian dance company in Los Angeles, and that’s where I started to love pushing the envelope and combining contemporary and Indian movement together.

2. Tell Us About Your First Dance Performance.

My first dance performance ever was to the Sridevi Bollywood song, “Mere Haathon Mein” and I must have been 4 or 5. I remember being on stage and feeling very comfortable performing for an audience. I also remember that I didn’t do the actual steps that were taught to me and I think I just did my own little improv show up there. My dad still tells me that’s it’s his favorite performance of mine to date.

©Carlton S. Chotalal Jr.3. Why SA?
Because Sa is the perfect blend of dance as art and dance as entertainment—exactly what I think dance should be. All the girls in Sa are fantastic dancers that come from diverse backgrounds. Dancing with them teaches me so much and helps me become a better dancer

4. Who are your role models?
My parents. They couldn’t have been more supportive about my dancing if I had asked them to. I also admire people who follow their passions unapologetically.

5. Will you be dancing at 80?
Hell yes! I want to be like this lady: Spectacular Salsa – Paddy & Nico – Electric Ballroom | Britain’s Got Talent 2014

6. If you were stuck in a room and could only do one dance move over and over again what would it be?
Hm… no idea. I’d probably get bored of doing the same one over and over. I’m easily distracted.

7. How does it feel to be associate choreographer for SA?
It’s been really amazing helping with the choreography and helping Payal craft the artistic aspects of the show. We have different styles and approaches to choreography, so it’s fun to collaborate and put together a product that truly is a unique blend of styles. To me, the best part of collaboration is learning from each other and I think we both have learnt a lot from each other during this process.

8. One word that describes dance to you.
Release. Dance is my release.

9. Describe yourself as a dancer
I’d say I’m a pretty free and airy dancer. I love letting go on stage.