KDT to Receive Art Works Grant

Crystal, MN—National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $84 million in grants as part of the Arts Endowment’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2020. Included in this announcement is an Art Works award of $15,000 to Katha Dance Theatre (KDT) for a 2021-22 tour of their critically acclaimed dance work Kathak Yatra: The Journey of Kathak Dance. This is one of 1015 grants nationwide that the agency has approved in this category.

“These awards demonstrate the resilience of the arts in America, showcasing not only the creativity of their arts projects but the organizations’ agility in the face of a national health crisis,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “We celebrate organizations like Katha Dance Theatrefor providing opportunities for learning and engagement through the arts in these times.”

“We are grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for its support of bringing our work, Kathak Yatra, to rural communities of Minnesota,” says KDT Artistic Director Rita Mustaphi. “This grant award is deeply meaningful to us since with this funding we will be able to not only offer performances but also enrich each community with the arts and culture of India. Much gratitude to the NEA!”

Kathak Yatra follows Kathak’s artistic and cultural evolution through time, beginning with its inception in Hindu temples, through its evolution as a form of entertainment for kings and emperors, and culminating in its contemporary multicultural incarnations. It explores Kathak’s duality as both classic and modern. Through this tour, KDT hopes to further its mission to make Kathak accessible and relevant throughout Minnesota.

For more information on this National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

Organizational Updates Regarding COVID-19

Image source: cdc.gov

KDT has made the following changes in response to the pandemic:

  • KDT’s office and studio locations have closed until further notice. All employees are working remotely and all classes have moved online via Zoom.
  • We have made the difficult decision to cancel our upcoming performance of Black Candle, which was scheduled to take place at the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in May.
  • Our tour stop to St. Cloud has been canceled due to Paramount Center for the Arts’ decision to postpone all scheduled events through May. We hope to reschedule this performance as soon as possible.
  • We have decided to postpone Sadhanaour annual school showcase. The performance will take place this Fall on a date TBA.
  • Throughout May, we offered a Virtual Benefit Concert Series in support of our programming. We created the event with the intention to bring the KDT community together to bond over a shared love of the arts. For one week, a benefit version of one of our recorded performances streamed on Vimeo, donation-optional. All shows are still available to watch in full here.
  • In conjunction with our venue, the Park Square Theater, we have decided to postpone our performance of Shaamya – Of Equality to November of 2021. Final dates forthcoming.

This post will continue to be updated as the situation evolves. To our beloved community members, thank you so much for your continued support of KDT during these uncertain times!

An Important Message Regarding COVID-19

Please note that this was written before KDT made the decision to move all classes online until further notice.

Dear friends,

With concerns about COVID-19 on the rise, I wanted keep the entire KDT community apprised of the precautions we are taking in response to the outbreak. As I’m sure you are aware, the health and safety of our Company dancers, students, parents, patrons and staff is our absolute top priority. We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to follow the advice of the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health. Here are the steps we have already taken:
  • We are regularly cleaning and sanitizing our studio and office spaces.
  • We are continuing to hold classes as scheduled, but are asking students and instructors to wash their hands thoroughly before class and engage in as little direct contact with each other as possible.
  • With full knowledge that every family is likely taking all necessary precautions against the virus, we are encouraging any student who feels sick or whose family member(s) feel sick to stay home from class.
  • We will gladly exchange or refund any tuition fees if we decide to cancel future classes.
  • We have made the difficult decision to postpone our upcoming performance of Black Candle, which was scheduled to take place at the Cowles Center in May. A decision about our school showcase performance, Sadhana, is forthcoming.

Because the virus is so easily transmitted through person-to-person contact, large gatherings of people are becoming less safe. Should the virus continue to spread in Minnesota, we will take the necessary steps to postpone or cancel other public performances and events and will be in touch when that occurs.

This virus poses serious questions that performers and arts organizations across the globe are currently grappling with. In all cases, the safety of our community takes precedence over our artistic goals. We are hopeful that more drastic steps will not be necessary, but are preparing as well as we can for the possibility of such circumstances. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you so much for your continued support of KDT!

– Rita Mustaphi, Artistic Director of Katha Dance Theatre

Welcome to KDT’s 32nd Season!

Shaamya – Of Equality: January 5, 2020

J.D. Steele. Photo by John Wagner.

Of equality I sing:
Where all barriers and differences
Among people are vanished,
Where Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians
Have mingled together.
– An excerpt from Kazi Nazrul Islam’s “Of Equality”

Inspired by the poem “Of Equality” written by Bengali revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899 – 1976), Katha Dance Theatre (KDT) is excited to announce a new thematic dance presentation: Shaamya – Of Equality.

Of Equality infuses gospel and R&B music composed and performed by local musician and composer J.D. Steele (pictured at left) and poetry by Somali poet and playwright Ifrah Mansour (pictured at right) into original Kathak choreography inspired by Nazrul Islam’s poetry. Steele, an accomplished musician who has performed with Prince, Mavis Staples, and others, will be accompanied by pianist Billy Steele, drum artist Abhinav Sharma, vocalist Tonia Hughes. Mansour’s poem “I am a Refugee,” which she will perform during Of Equality, was featured in PBS’s Online Film Festival in 2018. She is also known for her autobiographical play How to Have Fun in a Civil War, which depicts her recollections of her childhood in war-torn Somalia. With this new work, our intent is to engage people of all cultures in valuable discussions about parallels between the experiences of today’s communities of color and those expressed by Nazrul Islam in his time.

Ifrah Mansour. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Select KDT dancers will perform a work-in-progress version of Of Equality at The Southern Theater on January 5, 2020. Remember that this is just a preview of what’s to come; the full production is set to debut at St. Paul’s Park Square Theatre next November with four performances, including a student-only matinee.
WHAT: Shaamya – Of Equality: Work-in-Progress Performance
WHEN: January 5 at 2 p.m.
WHERE: The Southern Theater, 1420 S. Washington Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55454
RUNTIME: 40 minutes + 20 minute post-show discussion
TICKETS: Gen. admission: $10, youth/students: $5. (Or, pay what you can–in person at the box office only). Go here to learn more: https://southerntheater.org/shows/shaamya-of-equality

Local Tours: February and May, 2020

Photo by Erik Saulitis.

KDT will travel to Mankato and St. Cloud next year to perform Ritu – The Seasons and engage in community outreach activities. Ritu, which originally debuted in 2018, is a vivid portrayal of the Indian seasonal cycle, expanding and subverting American expectations. Based on the lyrical poem “Ritusamhara” by the great Sanskrit poet Kalidasa, Ritu depicts the six Indian seasons within beautiful and intricate Kathak movement, celebrating nature’s beauty through Kathak’s grace and subtlety. As always, our touring performances are open to the public. Please mark the following dates in your calendar, noting that ticket prices and showtimes are yet to be announced.

  • February 12: Minnesota State University – Mankato’s Ostrander Auditorium
  • May 22: This performance has been canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope to reschedule soon.

What’s New at KDT

We are pleased to announce that we have acquired our own dance studio! Located in St. Louis Park, the studio will be used exclusively by KDT’s company and school. The move is a long time coming for us—we have been working toward opening our own studio for several years in order to increase our accessibility and independence as an organization. We are so excited to have a home base that’s all our own!

The studio officially opens on the first day of Katha Dance School’s spring session! This means that starting on March 10, all future KDT classes will take place at our new, single studio location.

Finding the studio: We are located at 5806 W. 36th Street, St. Louis Park, MN 55416. Follow the link for detailed directions.

Parking: A free parking lot is located in back of the building. There is also limited street parking available in front and to the side, although all dancers are encouraged to enter the building through the back entrance in order to avoid wearing street shoes on the dance floor. The entrance is clearly marked with the KDT logo.

Accessibility: A handicap accessible ramp is located at the back of the building, for ease of entrance.

Look below for images of the new space!