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.

In January, we’re highlighting Grades 1B, 2B and 3A (children’s classes). Watch anytime starting on the 22nd.

Missed the December showcase? Watch here.

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!

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