World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Chitresh Das Youth Company

First appearance in SF EDF: 1999

The Chitresh Das Youth Company (CDYC) was founded by Pandit Chitresh Das to provide youth opportunity to study directly under this kathak master. Director Charlotte Moraga, CDYC Director under Pandit Das, provides students with intensive training in technique and theory, history, philosophy, mathematics, and spirituality, as foundations of kathak and the philosophy of Pandit Das. The group performs in prestigious venues and festivals in the US and India, such as Davies Symphony Hall, Zellerbach Hall, YBCA, Palace of Fine Arts, NCPA Theatre Mumbai, Toronto Harbourfront Theater.



TITLE: Sare Nau
CHOREOGRAPHER: Charlotte Moraga
MUSIC COMPOSER: Ritesh Das, Founder and Artistic Director of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble
DANCERS: Ishani Basak, Gauri Bhatnagar, Srija Bhattacharya, Ishani Chakraborty, Amidala Geetaumesh, Anusha Kothari, Shruti Pai, Meera Pala, Anushka Rao, Ruchira Rao, Atmika Sarukkai, Kritika Sharma, Grishma Shukla, Saavani Vaidya
MUSICIANS: Nilan Chaudhuri (kit drum), Razak Pirani (tabla), Shamir Panchal (tabla), William Rossel (tabla), Sekhar Sarukkai (mridangam)

Sare Nau, meaning Nine and a Half, is a thrilling, innovative collaboration between choreographer Charlotte Moraga, disciple of the late Pandit Chitresh Das, and musician/composer Ritesh Das, brother to Pandit Das.

The performance focuses entirely on percussion, presenting fast-paced rhythmic exercises called kaidas, variations played in tabla, but not usually danced. The unique taal—rhythmic cycle—is a difficult nine and half beats, and the choreography takes these dedicated, skilled young artists deep into their art form, with virtuosic jati footwork and lightning-fast chakkara spins.

The overall theme is playful, as in the play between Radha and Krishna: between devotee and the Divine. Geometric patterns play with time and space. Dancers exchange expressive hand positions and engage in joyful rhythmic conversations with musicians.

Kathak is a classical dance form from Northern India. Its spiritual and narrative components evolved from early kathaka storytellers who traveled between villages telling ancient Hindu stories in dance, mime, song, and poetry. Later, in India’s Moghul courts, musicians introduced the tabla drum. We see Pandit Chitresh Das’ philosophy/practice of “innovation within tradition” carried forward in Sare Nau: traditional tabla practice transforms to choreographed performance; a traditional tabla ensemble adds western drum kit and South Indian drum.

The dancers’ traditional anarkali-style costumes are also tailored in a contemporary style: with no duputta head scarf, simplified kundan-style jewelry, and a raw-silk circle skirt cut light and sleek to highlight the virtuosic elements of the dance.


Chitresh Das 

CHOREOGRAPHY: Pandit Chitresh Das
DANCERS: Sareena Avadhany, Shalaka Bhat, Ashyka Dave, Jasmyn Johal, Simeen Johal, Ahana Mukherjee, and Samreen Sandhu
MUSICIANS: Kousic Sen (Tabla), Swapnamoy Banerjee (Sarod), Pandit Chitresh Das (Recitation), Sarah Morelli (Tanpura)

The repertoire performed by the Chitresh Das Youth Company is representative of the style as developed in the Moguls courts, particularly of Lucknow, the once center of Mogul culture in India. Though classically a solo form, master Das has taken several top members of his youth classes who have passed through a rigorous audition process, and adapted this dance to a vibrant group form. The repertoire incorporates rhythmic virtuosity with intricate movements, crisp, dynamic footwork and lightning-speed pirouettes. The dancers wear a waistcoat style dress made of rich fabrics and ornate jewelry that is characteristic of the Mogul court style.

Chitresh Das
Photo of Pandit Chitresh Das

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