Virtual Diwali Festival: Nov. 13 – 15

Rakesh Sai Babu and Nivedita Sahni in Pourush (2015) – all rights reserved

Our Virtual Diwali Festival streamed on Vimeo Nov. 13 15, featuring a different performance each night from 7 – 7:30 pm CT. The event showcased our past collaborative works and new performances by some of our interns and advanced students that encapsulate the true meaning of Diwali – celebrating the triumph of light over dark, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.

Viewers were asked to consider donating in support of this and other KDT programming on Give to the Max Day (Nov. 19).

Performance Schedule

Friday, Nov. 13:
Intro: Excerpt from Pourush
Bhagwati Bandana and highlights from The Ramayana Project

Bhagwati, or Ma Durga, is synonymous to Shakti, who is the personification of beauty, creativity, wisdom, mystery and profundity. Bhagwati Bandana is an invocation to the goddess: Victory to You, O Divine Goddess, My Salutations to You. 

The Ramayana Project, a Pan-Asian collaboration produced by KDT in 2006, is based on the Hindu epic “The Ramayana.” Artists from India, Indonesia, Cambodia and Sri Lanka came together in celebration of Southeast Asian dance and music for this project, which attempts to highlight these cultures’ shared traditions and shared roots.

KDT interns and advanced students performed traditional Diwali dances.

________________________________________

Saturday, Nov. 14:
Intro: Asato Ma Sad Gamaya
Highlights from Pourush

KDT based Pourush (2015) on award-winning artist and writer Rabindranath Tagore’s dance-drama Chitrangada. It was an international collaboration featuring Kathak choreography by Rita Mustaphi and Chhau choreography by India-based choreographer Ms. Maitreyee Pahari

________________________________________

Sunday, Nov. 15:
Intro: Mangalam
Let there be Lights

On Sunday, we presented excerpts from the following collaborative works. KDT collaborated with internationally-renowned composer J.D. Steele to produce and premiere the world’s first African American & Asian Indian dance opera, Karna – The Abandoned Hero (2013).

EKAM – The Supreme Oneness (2011) celebrated the commonalities in all religions. Translated from Sanskrit, it means “one truth, many paths”, meaning there are many ways to access the Truth, or to realize God. Rita Mustaphi collaborated with renowned Gospel singer Robert Robinson and his company of musicians, blending classical North Indian Kathak dance with gospel music and spoken word poetry.

“The Airport” (2012) is a fusion of Kathak and Flamenco in collaboration with Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre that debuted as part of our 25th anniversary show, In Retrospect.

A Sanskrit prayer from The Upanishads

Asato ma sad-gamaya,

Lead me from — illusion to reality,

Tamaso ma jyotir-gamaya,

Lead me from — ignorance to knowledge,

mrityorma amritam-gamaya,

Lead me from — death to immortality,

Om shanti, shanti, shanti

Let there be peace…

Have a happy, safe and prosperous Diwali!

Virtual Concert Series

Available now:

Soul to Sole (2010)

Share your reactions by filling out our survey!

At KDT, we have been continually amazed by your positivity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we also know that social distancing is leaving many of us feeling isolated and anxious. That is why we’re announcing a unifying, community-building online dance experience: a virtual benefit concert series in support of our vital programming! Dress up, enjoy the beauty of dance, and even move along in your living room! Our offerings include:

A still from Mother/Daughter

Soul to Sole: Featuring the soulful musical stylings of legendary singer Robert Robinson and members of the Twin Cities Gospel Choir, this uplifting and inspiring show honors the importance of overcoming differences in order to achieve collective peace and harmony.

Mother/Daughter – On the Border: This dance/theater work features stories from KDT artistic director Rita Mustaphi and her daughter Semonti. It delicately balances honoring Rita’s upbringing in Kolkata, India and her family’s immigrant experience. With subtle humor, it deftly questions established cultural values. As Semonti says, “I search, I question – we search, we question!”

A still from Chandalika

Sufiana – The Sufi Ecstasy: featuring live music composed by 2016 McKnight Fellow Dr. Pooja Goswami Pavan and choreography by Rita Mustaphi, Sufiana captures the Sufi concepts of spiritual devotion and love of all humanity. It is uplifting, vibrant, and ecstatically alive!

Chandalika – The Untouchable Maiden is based on a century-old dance opera by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. In telling the story of a woman condemned to be an outcast at birth, Chandalika uses dance and text to examine the ways in which we fight discrimination, grapple with spiritual conflict, and find love and salvation against unimaginable odds.

While the events are free of charge, we invite you to make a contribution equaling your passion for KDT via our website or GiveMN page after each show.

Due to COVID-19, we are simply losing out on much-needed income from performances, education and outreach that go toward sustaining our organization. Your gift, no matter the amount, helps us continue on our mission to preserve and promote this gorgeous dance form. It also provides a sense of normalcy to the dancers whose lives have been thrown off-balance by this devastating pandemic.

Now is the perfect time to show your support in the form of a tax-deductible gift. Remember: anything helps!

Thank you so much for your continued support of KDT, and enjoy!

Ritu – The Seasons: 2020 Tour

Performance Dates:

NOTE: Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, our performance scheduled for Friday, May 22 at the Paramount Center for the Arts, St. Cloud has been canceled. All ticket holders will be contacted by the Paramount Center with information regarding refunds/exchanges. We apologize for any inconvenience.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Photo: Erik Saulitis

Saraswati Puja 2019

On February 10, 2019, KDT and the Hindu Society of Minnesota hosted their annual festival, Saraswati Puja and Basant Panchami! This traditional Indian spring festival honors Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music and art, while ushering in the first day of spring with ritual and dance. The event brought the KDT community closer in a morning full of dancing, worship, and togetherness.

Katha Dance Theatre has held an annual celebration of Saraswati Puja and Basant Panchami since 1990, welcoming KDT students, parents, patrons and the community at large to participate. The event is deeply embedded within Indian culture, where it is celebrated throughout the country by both Hindus and Sikhs. Because the festival honors the goddess of knowledge, it is also commonly celebrated within Indian educational institutions. Participants in the festival are often draped in yellow garments, as the color is symbolic of the spring season.

Taking place at the Hindu Temple of Minnesota in Maple Grove, the event’s schedule included a religious ceremony, collaborative art-making, traditional Alpana floor painting, a celebration through dance and music, an array of authentic Indian food, and more. The event attracted members of the Asian Indian community, members of the local Hindu community, and beyond. The day’s schedule was as follows:

8:30 – 9:30 am:  Preparation for the ritual (organizing the space for flower and garland making, sandalwood paste, alpana or rangoli)

9:00 am: Worship ritual (Saraswati Puja) guided by temple priests

9:30 – 11:00 am:  Community performances

11:00 – 11:50 am:  Katha Dance Theatre showcase performance

12:00 – 12:30 pm:  Aarti & Pushpanjali – the offering of flowers and accepting the blessing

12:30 – 1:30 pm Prasad & lunch

Below are some photos from the event. Thank you to all who attended!

The Hungry Stones

Hungry Stones Web Header

This event has passed.

Hungry Stones Program Insert

On November 16-18, 2018, Katha Dance Theatre presented a new version of its award-winning dance-drama, The Hungry Stones, at The Cowles Center in Minneapolis. The Hungry Stones is based on Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s short story Kshudhita Pashan, which was originally published in 1895. KDT reimagined its 1994 production with all new choreography and set design. Using Kathak, a traditional dance technique native to Northern India, KDT brought the ancient stones and colonial Indian palaces of Tagore’s story to life. The Hungry Stones reflects universal themes about how stones—and the land in general—act as witnesses to history.

The Hungry Stones tells the story of a tax collector who is sent to live and work in a small town. Despite advice to the contrary, he moves into a deserted palace that is believed to be haunted. Legend has it that only one man ever escaped the grip of the palace’s “hungry” stones, and he was driven to the brink of insanity. The tax collector soon finds that dilapidated rooms and courtyards, unassuming in daylight, begin to vibrate with the unfulfilled passions and dreams of the past as evening approaches. He eventually realizes that the palace stones have preserved lifetimes of ungratified desires. As his curiosity turns to obsession, escape appears impossible.

The Hungry Stones was designed by India-based Sandhya Raman (costumes) and Mike Grogan (lights). Choreographed and directed by master Kathak artist Rita Mustaphi, the production’s cast included some of the finest Kathak dancers in the country—Anurag Sharma, Mukta Sathe, Sarika Haris, Nivedita Sahni, Monica Singh, modern dancer Derek Phillips and Rita Mustaphi herself—as well as five KDT intern dancers.

About Kathak Dance

Kathak is an Indian classical dance tradition prevalent in Northern India. Its origins can be traced back to as early as 400 BCE. Nurtured in Hindu temples, it was disseminated by Kathakas, a community of storytellers who traveled the country using Kathak to share mythological stories and Hindu scripture. With the spread of Islam in 800 CE, Kathak was later influenced by the Muslim culture, growing more entertaining and less didactic in nature. The dance form has continued to grow and change over time, with KDT at the forefront of Kathak’s evolution. 

About Katha Dance Theatre

Katha Dance Theatre creates, performs and educates through the art forms of dance, music, poetry and storytelling. Rooted in Kathak, the classical dance style of Northern India, KDT is dedicated to making dance accessible, inclusive and relevant. It enhances the local community by bridging diverse cultures and audiences to contribute to life’s infinite artistic expressions.

The Hungry Stones • 1 hour, 15 min • Nov. 16-18 • The Cowles Center • Minneapolis • Tickets: $22-28 at thecowlescenter.org