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In Ila’s own words
"My best critics are the children of any Nationality. I know I have succeeded when I see joy in their eyes, and when they spontaneously dance and cling to me, expressing the joy of their tiny hearts and Souls, then I feel all this effort was worth it…."

Born in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on 27th March 1952, Ila began at an early age of ten, to learn Indian classical dance and Indian Folk dances. This interest grew in her life and encouraged by her family, she undertook to study and master the Indian Classical Dance Kathak. In 1968, Ila joined the famous College of Dance, Music and Dramatics of the Maharaja Sayaji Rao University, in Baroda, for 6 years, under Guruji Sundarlalji Gangani of the Jaipur Gharana. In 1971, Ila earned her B-Mus Degree in Kathak Classical Dance, - 1st Class with Distinction. In 1972, she was awarded the M. S. University scholarship in B-Mus Kathak, 4th year, and was 1st Class with Distinction. In 1973, Ila was awarded The National Scholarship for Kathak and M-Mus. in Kathak - being 1st Class with Distinction, and stood first in the entire faculty. In 1974, Ila was awarded the prestigious University Grants Commission (UGC) Scholarship for further studies and research in Kathak.

Ila’s public performances began from June of 1974, where National and State Newspapers reported her amazing and scintillating performance, at the Textile Market Auditorium in Surat, Gujarat. Thereafter she continued to perform in various places in India, including the Sri Aurobindo Ashram’s theatre at Pondicherry, the International Township of Auroville, in various countries of Europe, Australia, and for charities - such as the National Defence Fund. From 1975 to 1978, as Principal of the private school Sincerite Education, at Bardoli, Gujarat, Ila successfully experimented with teaching of Indian Classical Dance, Drama and Music as part of Basic Education.

In 1976, Ila performed at the Swaraj Ashram school in Bardoli, Gujarat, and taught Kathak to tribal girls as well as studied Tribal Folk Dances. She was invited and performed for the International Society for Education through Arts (INSEA) affiliated to UNESCO, at their World Conference held in India, at Navsarjan Vidyalaya, Bhilad, Gujarat, as well as at INSEA Conferences in various countries abroad.

In 1978, Ila gave a very special performance with her Guruji, for The Mother’s Centenary Celebrations at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram theatre in Pondicherry, and in the Bardoli Town Open Air Theatre along with her young students. She married Prabhat Kumar PODDAR in November 1978, and moved to Pondicherry. Since then, Ila has been teaching Kathak, at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. At Pondicherry, Ila’s creative talents have fully flowered. She choreographed and performed over the years, with her students, Kathak ballets, dance-dramas such as “Aan Milo Banwari” on the life of Saint Poet Meerabai in 1980, thereafter “Indian Music and Dance through the Ages”, “Krishna Lila”, “Life of Saint Poet Narsi Mehta”, “Ramayana”, etc.

From 1977 to 2008, Ila has been visiting different countries regularly on invitations. She has been giving brilliant performances at the Mandapa centre in Paris; Theatre 13, Bibliotheque Trocadero, Valeyrie, and Centre Pompidou also in Paris; Ecole de Danse du Cercle Laique Dijonais at Dijon, France; Salle Braun at Metz, France for INSEA AND IECART (Initiation, Expression, Creation Artistique); Ballet school Langres, France; Theatre Jacques Coeur at Bourges, France; at the World Conference on Comparative Education in London; Indian Cultural Centre – Cheltenham, England; Warfum – Holland at the 1980 International Folkloristisch Dansfestival – Op Roakeldais; Lyngby Music Circle and the International Student Centre Copenhagen, Denmark.

Ila has also given lecture-demonstrations in various countries and Universities such as those of Odense and for Drama students of the Theatre Academy Arhus, Denmark; Institute of Theatre Research at Copenhagen, Denmark; and various Cultural Institutions all over Europe:

- private:       such as Marcel D’Assaut, France;
                      Indian Cultural Centre Tapovan in Paris and Normandie;
                      in Berne Switzerland, Italy …
- public:         such as Les Chiroux Cultural Centre at Liege, Belgium ....

In November 1996, Ila was invited personally by Sir Yehudi Menuhin and his Yehudi Menuhin Foundation in Brussels, for a special Kathak performance, which she presented on 17th November, to a thunderous standing ovation.

In February 2002, Ila presented her most impressive Spiritual Dance creation at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Theatre, Pondicherry, with her students. An experiment in Kathak ballet with multimedia - slides of miniature paintings, blended to perfection with Indian ragas, and multi language – Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali and English, on the Natya Shastra’s theme of “Ashta Nayikas” or “The Journey of A Soul”.

Some of the Comments that people have made on seeing Ila’s performances:

  • “He is the Silence, You are His Music”.
  • “An Art that needs to be seen to be believed”.
  • “From year to year, your dance matures as do the best of our wines”.
  • “An Art and Mastery that goes beyond words”.
  • “Your Body, Heart, Mind and Soul are one with the Soul of Dance”.
  • “Your Dance is an expression of your inner joy and deep Love whose vibrations have our hearts flutter with joy and feeling of Divine Bliss”.
  • “God knows if the Divine is a stranger to us!
      In effect it is Divine what we feel when you dance”.
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