World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival

FESTIVAL DANCERS

Chhandam Youth Dance Company

NATIONAL/ETHNIC IDENTITY: North India
DIRECTOR: Charlotte Moraga
First appearance in SF EDF: 1999
Website: www.kathak.org/index.php/chhandam-school-of-kathak

The Chhandam Youth Dance Company is an elite pre-professional kathak group, ages 8–18, undergoing rigorous training in kathak as well as theory, history, philosophy, and mathematics. Established in 2002 to give the next generation comprehensive training under renowned Pandit Chitresh Das and senior disciples, CYDC performs locally, nationally, and internationally. These rising leaders in the arts participate in mentorships and events, raising the profile of kathak and the classical arts.

2016 PERFORMANCE

DANCE ORIGIN: North India
GENRE: Kathak
TITLE: Yato Bhava, Stato Rasa
DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER: Charlotte Moraga
DANCERS: Ishani Basak, Gauri Bhatnagar, Ishani Chakraborty, Ojaswee Chaudhary, Sarina Chitre, Amidala Geetaumesh, Esha Gupta, Shreeya Indap, Ishika Kamchetty, Shreya Khandewale, Vanita Mundhra, Shruti Pai, Meera Pala, Richa Patwardhan, Ruchira Rao, Atmika Sarukkai, Anushka Shah, Kritika Sharma, Saavani Vaidya

Photo by Mark Muntean

WORLD PREMIERE

Yato hasto, stato dristhi
Yato dristhi, stato mana(ha)
Yato mana, stato bhava
Yato bhava, stato rasa


Wherever go the hands,
so follows the gaze
Wherever go the eyes,
so follows attunement of mind
Wherever goes the mind,
so follows expression of feeling
Wherever goes expression of feeling,
there goes mood, flavor, essence


In Yato Bhavo, Stato Rasa, hand gestures, movements and rhythms invoke the grounded Earth, the fluidity of water and wind, and the pure light of fire. As all things move within infinite space, dancers fly across the stage to present atman—the soul’s essence—liberated and celebrated in joy.

This performance focused on nritta, the abstract dance aspect of the classical Indian dance form known as kathak. It also evokes moods with the interplay between dramatic music and movement. The performance began with three ancient Sanskrit verses, as the dancers’ movements evoke eternal cycles of destruction and creation, death, and rebirth. The first verse evokes the progression of the subtle feelings in the dance; the second pays homage to the gurus: the Creator Brahma, preserver Vishnu, and destroyer Maheshvara (Shiva). The final verse also has a universal theme, evoking space, time, matter, and eternal soul, as well as physical elements of wind, fire, water, and earth. As we hear the spoken rhythm syllables called bols, we are reminded that the body dances on Earth as a spiritual offering. The bols are symbolic: “ta” for the body; “thei” for the ground; and “ei” for The Lord.

The costume is in the angikar style with close-fit churidar pants, and shows ancient and modern Hindu and Muslim origins, with flowers and colors reflecting elements in space and time. The Hindustani music is composed by the late Pandit Chitresh Das and Jayanta Bannerjee in the ubiquitous rhythmic cycle of tintal, with sixteen beats in four equal divisions. “Tin” means
“three” and “tal” means “clap”: practitioners often keep beat with three claps and a wave.

2012 PERFORMANCE

TITLE: Kathak Yoga
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Pandit Chitresh Das, assisted by senior disciple, Charlotte Moraga
DANCERS: Leela Amladi, Simran Arora, Jasmine Balsara, Ishani Basak, Neha Bhansali, ishani Chakraborty, Moncia Chitre, Sarina Chitre, Anushka Das, Jaya Das, ishita Dubey, Ayanna Givens, Nikita Hazari, Shreya Khandewale, Aditi Maheshwari, Vanita Mundhra, Athena Nair, Namisha Narayanan, Ritika Pai, Shruti Pai, Sneha Patkar, Ria Parab, Richa Patwardhan, Ruchita Rao, Aahana Sahai, Atmika Sarrukai, Mayuka Sarrukai, Anushka Shah, Sonia Shah, Kritika Sharma, Sonali Toppur

The piece Kathak Yoga, was created for young dancers for this Festival—both to showcase the virtuosity and energy of the next generation, and to carry kathak dance into the future. Pandit Das’ choreography uses traditional movements, exhibiting aspects of tayaari (technical readiness and excellence), laykaari (rhythmic complexities), khubsurti (beauty), and nazakut (delicacy). Kathak is among the major classical dances of India. In northern India, traditional storytellers known as kathakas once brought to life the great scriptures and epics, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Puranas of Sanskrit literature, while entertaining with dance, music, and mime. The lineage of kathak can be traced from generation to generation, parent to child, and guru to disciple. In the 1800s, India’s kings and zamindar (overlords) celebrated kathak as both entertainment and a respected classical art. Several different kathak gharanas, or schools, emerged. The Jaipur gharana emerged in the Hindu courts of semi-desert Rajasthan; it emphasized the vigorous aspects of pure dance. Lucknow gharana developed to the east, in the Muslim court of Wajid Ali Shah; it focused on dramatic and sensuous expression.

Kathak masters Ram Narayan Misra and Prohlad Das were—respectively—guru and father of Chitresh Das. At the age of nine, Pandit Das tied strings with his guru, and was schooled in the subtleties of both Lucknow and Jaipur gharanas. Pandit Das performed in one of the first San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festivals in the late 1970s, and was the first recipient of the Festival’s Malonga Casquelord Lifetime Achievement Award. Pandit Das recently received the National Heritage Award and currently tours all over India and North America teaching and performing. His training institution, the Chhandam School of Kathak Dance, has branches in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Boston, Mumbai, and Kolkata.

Kathak Yoga is a unique innovation within kathak tradition, focusing on the purely rhythmic elements of kathak rather than the storytelling aspects. Traditionally, a solo artist would take the stage for a two hour concert accompanied by virtuosic musicians on tabla, sarode, vocal, and sarangi. Pandit Das has developed a dynamic way for dancers to take on the role of the musicians by singing the melody of the rhythmic cycle and playing a percussion instrument such as the manjira, hand cymbals, while at the same performing complicated rhythmic patterns with the feet. It takes tremendous focus and integration of the aspects of kathak. Kathak Yoga is named for the Sanskrit root word yug, meaning union. Kathak Yoga is a mediation in motion, a union of mind, body, and spirit. The costumes are based on traditional Moghul designs. Bright, brassy bells wrapped around loose churiadhar pants transform the dancers into musical instruments. The Moghul dresses with brocade waistcoats are combined with flowers, to show both Hindu and Muslim influences in kathak.

2008 PERFORMANCE

TITLE: Uttarakaala
CHOREOGRAPHERS
: Pandit Chitresh Das, Assisted by Senior Disciple, Charlotte Moraga
DANCERS
: Aditi Amlani, Sareena Avadhany, Jasmine Balsara, Shalaka Bhat, Natasha Chitkara, Monica Chitre, Priyam Das, Ashyka Dave, Divya Goel, Rachna Gulati, Ahana Mukherjee, Krisha Nayak, Ritika Pai, Ria Parab, Saloni Parikh, Aahana Sahai, Samreen Sandhu, Sonali Toppur
VOCALS: Members of Chitresh Das Dance Company
INTERNATIONAL GUEST ARTISTS: Abhijit Banerjee (tabla), Jayanta Banerjee (sitar)

This is the world premiere of Uttarakaala, choreographed by Kathak Master Pandit Chitresh Das, assisted by Senior Disciple Charlotte Moraga. Uttarakaala means future, and the dance is aptly named. The piece was created for young dancers for this Festival— both to showcase the virtuosity and energy of the next generation, and to carry kathak dance into the future. Pandit Das' choreography uses traditional movements, exhibiting aspects of tayaari (technical readiness and excellence), laykaari (rhythmic complexities), khubsurti (beauty), and nazakut (delicacy).

Kathak is among the major classical dances of India. In northern India, traditional storytellers known as kathakas once brought to life the great scriptures and epics, the Mahabharata,the Ramayana, and the Puranas of Sanskrit literature, while entertaining with dance, music, and mime. The lineage of kathak can be traced from generation to generation, parent to child and guru to disciple.

In the 1800’s, India’s kings and zamindar (overlords) celebrated kathak as both entertainment and a respected classical art. Several different kathak gharanas, or schools, emerged. The Jaipur gharana emerged in the Hindu courts of semi-desert Rajasthan; it emphasized the vigorous aspects of pure dance. Lucknow gharana developed to the east, in the Muslim court of Wajid
Ali Shah; it focused on dramatic and sensuous expression. Kathak Masters Ram Narayan Misra and Prohlad Das were—respectively—guru and father of Chitresh Das. At the age of nine, Pandit Das tied strings with his guru, and was schooled in the subtleties of both Lucknow and Jaipur gharanas. Pandit Das performed in one of the first San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festivals in the
late 1970s, and was the first recipient of the Festival’s Malonga Casquelourd Lifetime Achievement Award.

Abhijit Banerjee plays tabla, and Jayanta Banerjee plays sitar. They peform this Taranâ —a form which uses sung syllables—in raag Maulkauns. Uttarakaala focuses on the purely rhythmic elements of kathak; rather than the storytelling aspects of kathak. The costumes are based on traditional Moghul designs. Bright, brassy bells wrapped around loose churiadhar pants transform the dancers also into musical instruments. The Moghul dresses with brocade waistcoats are combined with flowers, to show both Hindu and Muslim influences in kathak.

 

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