To celebrate its 25th season, Katha Dance Theatre presents IN RETROSPECT showcasing its rich history, along with the variety, diversity and ingenuity of its critically acclaimed repertoire.
The performances reunite artistic director/choreographer Rita Mustaphi and her award-winning company with Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre, Ethnic Dance Theatre and gospel singer Robert Robinson to stage dynamic excerpts from Katha’s remarkable past. The dance concerts will be held at 8 p.m. on Friday-Saturday, June 1-2, at the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, College of St. Catherine, 2004 Randolph Ave., St. Paul.
Noteworthy collaborations have played a central role in Katha’s 25-year history, including groundbreaking cross-cultural partnerships that put contemporary spins on the traditional dance of Northern India. For In Retrospect, Katha will revisitSundari Aur Nag, a classic retelling of the Beauty and Beast fable with the Ethnic Dance Theatre, first performed in 2008 and the Ordway Center for Performing Arts’ first local commission.
Inspired by Kathak-Flamengo UnitedRhythmPassion (1998), Katha Dance Theatre will premiere two Kathak-Flamenco collaborative works with Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theater, stressing the common ground between these two distinctive dance traditions. Other highlights will include “Smile,” a new work of Kathak dance with gospel music along with pieces from Soul to Sole (2010) and Ekam–The Supreme Oneness (2011) with Robert Robinson in an “unexpected but successful combination” that was noted for its “surprisingly uplifting results” (Star Tribune).
Other In Retrospect dance selections will be taken from Laya Lavanya, a pure Kathak Concert (1989); Myths and Legends, Kathak storytelling dances (1991); That Tremendous Word–Love (1992); Abhinaya–The Art of Expression, featuring various expressions used in Kathak dance (1995); Black Candle, an enactment of contemporary poems from Chitra Divakaruni’s book (1997); Temple to Court, (1998); Angika, fusing Kathak dance with jazz music (2009); and two pieces based on Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s work, The Hungry Stones (2004) and Chandalika–the Untouchable Maiden (2011). The dance concerts will feature videos and lobby displays highlighting select costumes and playbills from Katha’s 25-year history.
Katha company dancers include Mustaphi, Sarika Haris, Priya Jain, Derek Phillips, Mukta Sathe, Anurag Sharma, Asha Sharma, Monica Singh and apprentice Nivedita Sahni. Dances with Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theater will feature artistic director Susana di Palma and two dancers. Ethnic Dance Theatre will bring six dancers, along with artistic director Donald LaCourse. The last section will feature live music by Robert Robinson Music (Robert Robinson, vocals; David Billingsley piano; Brandon Commodore, percussion; Jesse Larson, guitar; and a chorus with Sandra Robinson Hodges, Valerie Robinson and Annette Hardy).
The mission of Katha Dance Theatre (KDT) is to preserve the Kathak dance culture of Northern India through the development of innovative and collaborative work. The company strives to make Kathak accessible through an uncompromising commitment to educational programs, performances and outreach efforts, which push the forms boundaries while establishing a diverse cultural community that embraces all.
Kathak is among the six major classical dances of India and one of the most dynamic theater arts in the world. Kathak dance originated in the Hindu temples of North India. These temples were known as arts centers where students would learn from the masters of their art form. The word Kathak literally means “storyteller.”
The Kathakars used music, dance and mime to narrate Hindu epic tales, sacred legends, folklore, and mythology. With the emergence of the Moghul Empires, Kathak dance transformed from an art form for Hindu devotion to a form of entertainment that emphasized technique and aesthetic. New components of Kathak dance emerged, including pirouettes, fast rhythmic footwork, and brisk movements. Kathak dancers began to tie bells to their ankles to add percussive sound to their movement. Today, Kathak dance is still an evolving art form that is a blend of Hindu and Persian cultures.