“Black Candle” Coming June 3 – 5, 2022

Black Candle Promotional photo
Photo by Erik Saulitis

We’re pleased to announce the upcoming revival of one of our classic repertory works, Black Candle. The new production is set to premiere at the Southern Theater June 3 – 5, 2022.

Based on the award-winning poetry of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Black Candle combines the elegant medium of Kathak dance with text and music to evoke female joy, love, pain and resilience. It pays tribute to the strength and tenacity shown by the women of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan in the face of adversity such as sexism, misogyny and repressive cultural norms.

In keeping with KDT’s artistic mission, Black Candle celebrates diverse perspectives and backgrounds while taking particular care to emphasize female empowerment. It is therefore strongly of-the-moment in its messaging and artistry. Although the show is technically a re-staging, it will feature new choreography by KDT’s award-winning Artistic Director, Rita Mustaphi, who calls Black Candle “a collection of stories of women’s journeys of loss, exploration, discovery and spiritual freedom through love.”

The show is based on Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s poetry collection of the same name. Like most of Divakaruni’s work, Black Candle recounts pivotal moments in the lives of South Asian and South Asian-American women of all ages and backgrounds. “I created Black Candle to document the lives of South Asian women around the world,” she says. “The poems cover many of the challenges women continue to face today that are often ignored by western society. I’m thrilled to see that my friend, Rita Mustaphi, is bringing these tales back to life, and is once again offering these stories to the Twin Cities community.”

The final performance will be accompanied by an ASL interpreter and a post-show discussion. Tickets on sale beginning May 9 at southerntheater.org.
Gen. admission: $25 ($20 in advance). Student and seniors (65+) with valid ID: $18.

Black Candle. June 3 – 5, 2022 at the Southern Theater, 1420 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55454.

Showtimes:
Friday, June 3 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, June 4 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, June 5 at 2 pm (ASL-interpreted; post-show discussion)

About Katha Dance Theatre
Katha Dance Theatre (KDT) 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.

About Kathak Dance
Kathak (pronounced “Kah-tahk”) is an Indian classical dance tradition native to North India. Its origins can be traced back to as early as 400 BCE, when it began as a form of sharing stories, myths, and Hindu scripture in temples and royal courts. Characterized by both rhythmic and lyrical elements, it features graceful hand gestures, pirouettes, and complex footwork, performed with expressiveness and precision. Over the centuries, it has grown to incorporate diverse influences and viewpoints with KDT at the forefront of its artistic evolution.

About Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning Indian-American author, poet, and the Betty and Gene McDavid Professor of Writing at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. Her short story collection Arranged Marriage won an American Book Award in 1995, and her novel Mistress of Spices was short-listed for the Orange Prize.

Divakaruni’s works are largely set in India and the United States, and often focus on the experiences of South Asian immigrants. Her themes include the Indian experience, contemporary America, women, immigration, history, myth, and the joys and challenges of living in a multicultural world. Her work has been published in magazines like The Atlantic and The New Yorker, included in over 50 anthologies, and translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Hindi and Japanese.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. It is also made possible by general operating support from the RBC Foundation and the Archie D and Bertha H Walker Foundation, and by the generosity of KDT’s private donors.

Announcing “MASK,” a New All-Virtual Project

Rita Mustaphi

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.

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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.

Monthly Student Showcase

Photo by Anurag Sharma

This 33rd anniversary year is made all the more unusual by the cancellation of Sadhana (a Sanskrit word translated as “methodical discipline to attain desired knowledge”), but we’re determined to celebrate our students’ achievements! With that in mind, we’re pleased to announce a virtual Student Showcase series, recurring online the fourth weekend of every month.

This monthly virtual event will not only highlight our students’ recent learning and artistic growth – it will also build their confidence, spark their creativity and allow them to celebrate each other. We hope you’ll watch with us as each weekend as it debuts and share your thoughts.

Our final showcase celebrated our apprentices and Company. Learn more.

Watch our showcase series:

December
January
February
March
April
May

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.

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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

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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!