On January 17, the world lost a monumental figure in the world of Kathak dance.
We are devastated to share that Kathak legend Pandit Birju Maharaj has passed away at the age of 83. In addition to being one of the most revered Kathak artists of all time, Pandit Birju Maharaj was also the longtime guru of Rita Mustaphi and had a huge artistic impact on KDT. We were honored to have him as a visiting master teacher over the years, but the world will remember him for his incomparable talent, wisdom, artistry and leadership.
In the weeks to come, we hope to more formally memorialize the great Pandit Birju Maharaj. For now, the entire KDT family can think back on its personal memories of the Kathak guru and the lasting impression he made on the world of dance, taking comfort in the fact that he will live on through his artistic legacy.
On September 11, 2021, we will reopen our St. Louis Park studio for in-person classes and rehearsals. We also plan to resume in-person performances in the coming months, starting with the premiere of Shaamya – Of Equality at the Park Square Theatre this November. While these are exciting steps forward, our top priority is to ensure everyone’s ongoing health and safety during the pandemic.
With that in mind, we will continue to follow the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health, which we acknowledge could change at any moment as the pandemic evolves. We are excited to be using a hybrid classroom set-up, allowing us to make all of our classes available both in-person and virtually (apart from classes taught by Rita Mustaphi, which are all virtual). Below are further details surrounding our reopening process this Fall:
As stated on our studio safety and student code of conduct page, we are requiring anyone who enters the studio to wear a mask at all times, regardless of one's vaccination status. Masks have been proven to be effective in lowering transmission of COVID-19, and we feel this is the best way to protect our community against the threat of the Delta variant. In addition to masking, we ask all who enter the studio to try as best they can to maintain a six-foot distance away from those around them.
Following the example of many other dance studios and theaters around the country, we are requiring all in-person students over the age of 12 to provide proof of vaccination before the start of the Fall session. Students under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated (but as stated above, must wear a mask in-studio) and students learning via Zoom are exempt from this.
If a teacher or student is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and tests positive for the virus, or if they have been exposed to anyone who has tested positive, we ask that they immediately inform Mukta Sathe (School Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org)and refrain from entering the studio for two weeks after the positive test. If there is a chance that any other teachers or class members were exposed, the class will move online for two weeks before returning to the studio.
In order to ensure our studio's safety, we have added a state-of-the-art air purifying system to our HVAC. The iWave C Air Ionization System reduces the flow of particles in the air, helping to stop the spread of certain viruses and bacteria. Read more about it here.
KDT's teaching staff will thoroughly sanitize doorknobs and any other frequently touched surfaces before and after each class. There will also be a bottle of hand sanitizer in the studio that we will require everyone to use before and after each class.
Hybrid Learning Policy: All classes this session will follow a hybrid learning model, meaning that students will have the option of learning in person or on Zoom. Each student's preferred learning model must be shared upon registration, with the knowledge that changing CDC guidelines or a rise in cases could move all classes to Zoom at any time. We have upgraded our studio technology to include a television equipped with an HDMI plug-in that will broadcast Zoom learners into the classroom, visible and audible to all in-person participants.
We will work with every presenter to follow individual venues' policies regarding mask-wearing and social distancing. However, we will insist that all audience members at our performances and outreach programs keep their distance from those outside of their group and wear a mask at all times within the venue.
Again, we will work to follow each venue's specific vaccination policy, but we will require all audience members at our performances and outreach programs to either show proof of prior vaccination (with the last dose having been administered at least two weeks beforehand) or proof of a negative COVID-19 test at least 48 hours before attending.
If you would like to sign up to be vaccinated against COVID-19, please do so here.
If you would like to schedule a COVID-19 test, please do so here.
Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have regarding these policies or any of the measures we are taking to stop the spread of COVID-19.
World Premiere Work-in-Progress Performance June 25 – 27 on Vimeo
We’re pleased to announce the work-in-progress premiere of an exciting new performance concept two years in the making!
Ganga to Mississippi – A Confluence of Watersis an original dance work that juxtaposes the roles of the Ganges and Mississippi rivers in their respective environments. Spanning continents and cultural traditions, Ganga uses Kathak dance and spoken word elements to highlight the important role that rivers play in our ecosystems, emphasizing the impact of river pollution on climate change and advocating for universal access to clean, drinkable water.
Filmed on the banks of the Ganges and Mississippi rivers, Ganga features original Kathak choreography by KDT Artistic Director Rita Mustaphi, who will perform solo in this in-progress look. As portrayed through Kathak’s elegant lyricism, Ganga is a moving and powerful ode to these majestic rivers and an urgent call for their eternal preservation.
A full filmed performance, set to premiere this August, will include performances by KDT lead dancer/choreographer Rita Mustaphi with Company members Mukta Sathe and Madhulika Srikanth; live music by an ensemble that includes Praful Kelkar, Abhinav Sharma, Ritika Ganguly and Shinjan Sengupta; poetic and musical contributions by Sharon M. Day, the Executive Director of Indigenous Peoples Task Force; live vocals by One Voice Mixed Chorus Artistic Director Jane Ramseyer Miller, and more.
The work-in-progress premiered on June 25. Watch below!
We’ve come to the difficult decision to not resume in-person learning this Summer, meaning that classes will remain virtual through August.
I know this is disappointing to many of you who are growing weary of living your lives online. And I know that we had previously announced our intention to introduce limited in-person education starting this Summer. Due to recent developments, however, we believe this is the only way forward. Our reasons are as follows:
-COVID-19 case numbers: We’ve noticed with concern that case numbers in Minnesota are rising and in order to ensure the continued health and safety of our community, we feel congregating in-person would pose too great a risk––even with strict safety measures in place, as was our intention.
-Teacher vaccination status: As we’ve previously shared, we are committed to not beginning in-person classes until our entire teaching staff is vaccinated, and at this point, that will likely not happen until after Summer classes have begun.
-HVAC system: Again, because COVID-19 is airborne, we are committed to installing an upgraded HVAC system in our studio before in-person classes resume in order to ensure proper airflow. This will likely not occur until later than we had previously anticipated.
As I hope you’re all aware, we did not come to this decision lightly. We still hope to resume in-person classes this Fall (although virtual options will remain for our remote learners), but in order to ensure everyone’s continued health and safety as the pandemic persists, we feel we must keep Summer classes virtual. Let’s all continue to show each other patience and understanding and come together even stronger this Fall!
Please don’t hesitate to get in touchwith any questions you may have. For example, if you’re interested in using the studio for individual practice time this Summer, we’d be happy to help you arrange that. As KDT students, you have the option of renting the studio for $20/hour.
Either way, thank you all for your continued loyalty and support during this difficult time. We will get through this!
All the best,
Rita Mustaphi Founder & Artistic Director Katha Dance Theatre
We are pleased to announce that KDT Artistic Director Rita Mustaphi has been awarded a Creative Support For Individuals grant by the Minnesota State Arts Board to fund an exciting new virtual project.
MASK is specifically designed for the internet age. Ms. Mustaphi describes it as “a dance of change – creating social awareness about the catastrophic physical & emotional tolls of 2020, and reimagining the situation as an opportunity for positive changes, attaining desires & achieving dreams.” The project is in keeping with KDT’s history of using dance and performance to convey emotional truths and address important socio-political issues.
According to the MSAB, “Creative Support for Individuals is designed to help Minnesota artists and culture bearers adapt to changes in their working environment caused by the global pandemic … This grant program aims to help Minnesota artists and culture bearers maintain their visibility and financial sustainability by using their creativity and connections to community.”
The social justice-focused project is set to debut as a streaming performance later in 2021. Read about the other grantees and their projects here.
Rita Mustaphi is a fiscal year 2021 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. 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.