Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology • Chair, Musicology & Ethnomusicology

Institutional Affiliation

University of Denver
Lamont School of Music


Ph.D., Harvard University

Regional and Thematic Interests

South Asia
Literature and the Arts


Dr. Sarah Morelli, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music received her Ph.D. from Harvard University (2007). Active as both a scholar and performer, she has studied the performing arts of India since 1992; she trained with the legendary Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (Hindustani vocal music and the sarod) and continues to study with his disciples Pandit Rajeev Taranath, Dr. George Ruckert and Steve Oda. Dr. Morelli also trained with the renowned North Indian Kathak dance master, Pandit Chitresh Das and his disciple Gretchen Hayden. Between 2000 and 2008 she performed as a Kathak dancer and as a musical accompanist for Pandit Das and the Chitresh Das Dance Company in India, Europe and the United States. Her forthcoming book, Tales of a Modern Guru: Pandit Chitresh Das and Indian Classical Dance in Diaspora (University of Illinois Press, forthcoming), is an ethnographic account of Pandit Das’s dance company and school, his contributions to Kathak dance, and processes of culture-change in artistic diasporas. Active in the Society for Ethnomusicology and the College Music Society, Dr. Morelli presents at these societies’ national and international conferences as well as those of the American Anthropological Association, the Association for Asian Studies, the American Folklore Society, the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, and others.

Selected Publications

Forthcoming. Tales of a Modern Guru: Pandit Chitresh Das and Indian Classical Dance in Diaspora. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Forthcoming. “‘A Superior Race of Strong Women': Negotiating Power, Race and Gender through North Indian Classical Dance in the San Francisco Bay Area.” In America’s Musical Diversity. ed. Kip Lornell and Anne Rasmussen. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi. Second edition (First ed. Musics of Multicultural America, Schirmer, 1997).

2010. “Intergenerational Adaptation in North Indian Kathak Dance.” Anthropological Notebooks. 16(3): 77-91.