"I have been a dancer my entire life. First, as a student, then, as a performer, and now, as a teacher. During this evolution, I have learnt to adapt to new situations in order to touch as many lives as possible through the art of dance. From India to the U.S., from Bharata Natyam to Modern dance, from traditional gurus to high school kids with their “whatever” attitudes, my personal journey has been full of surprising turns. Dedicating my life to the performing arts has not always been easy, but I would not trade it for anything in the world. The meeting of minds, the meeting of cultures, the richness of this confluence make it all worthwhile.

Receiving the 2018 North Carolina Heritage Award is a tremendous honor. I am humbled and grateful beyond words to Wayne Martin, Sally Peterson and all the members of the Arts Council for considering me worthy of this recognition.

But, the greater recognition is for Indian classical dance. An award of this stature takes it one step closer to becoming a part of the cultural conversation of this country. To claim its place in history, alongside other great artistic traditions. To me that is the greater honor."

The North Carolina Heritage Award

The Award:

The North Carolina Heritage Award is a Lifetime Achievement Award given to artists in the state of North Carolina in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the state’s cultural heritage. The Arts Council believes these awards deepen awareness of the rich and diverse cultural traditions of the people in North Carolina.

The award was created in 1989 by North Carolina Arts Council and the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Since then, The North Carolina Heritage Award has honored over 130 eminent artists.

Asha Bala became the first South Asian to receive the 2018 North Carolina Heritage Award for her tireless efforts to promote Bharata Natyam in North Carolina.
All Heritage Award and Arts Council photos are from NC Arts Council

December 5, 2017
Press release on 2018 NC Heritage Award

1 For Dec Press Release(PC-NC Arts Council)

May 23, 2018
Heritage Award Ceremony:

1 For May 23 Awards link (PC-NC Arts Council)

Photo Credit: NC Arts Council

For May 23 Awards link - First Lady_Cooper_Asha_Bala_(PC-Linda Fox_DNCR-NC Arts Council) For May 23 Awards link -Sec_Hamilton_Asha_Bala_(PCLinda Fox_DNCR-NC Arts Council)

For NC Arts Council’s Film link(PC-NC Arts Council)


NC Arts Council’s Film on Leela School of Dance for the Awards Ceremony
Facebook Video of Dance