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!

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

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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

Parampara: The Tradition

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Sunday, June 10th  •  5:00pm  •  The O’Shaugnessy

St. Catherine University  •  2004 Randolph Avenue  •  St. Paul

Tickets: $75-25  •  651-690-6700  •  oshag.stkate.edu

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In June 2018, KDT invited Kathak master Pandit Birju Maharaj to perform at St. Catherine University’s O’Shaugnessy Theatre. He was joined onstage by Grammy-winning musician Ustad Zakir Hussain, as well as other India-based musicians and Kathak disciples. The performance was the culmination of Maharaj’s week-long residency with KDT, which included workshops and master classes for KDT students and company members. Parampara represented a rare opportunity for those outside of the Kathak community (and for residents of the U.S. in general) to witness the work of one of the art form’s foremost experts.