Concert in Mumbai—In Memory of Chitresh Das

Namaskar.  Below is an invitation from one of our affiliate schools, Chhandam Nritya Bharati, India. If you have friends or family in the Mumbai area who might be interested, please let them know about this special event!

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Dear Friends,
In memory of our Guruji, Pandit Chitresh Das, we are presenting Rhythm Rewritten, as a tribute to the great master. This tribute is by Begum Parween Sultana, Jason Samuels Smith and Seema Mehta.

Date – 28th February, Saturday, 7pm        Venue – NCPA, Tata Theatre

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Tickets available at NCPA Box Office and bookmyshow. Hope to see you there!
Warm Regards
Seema Mehta

Snow Day Sunday February 8

Dear Chhandika Students and Parents,

Regretfully, we are canceling classes in Brighton for this Sunday, February 8.

With the first plows now clearing away significant snow accumulated on the roads here, seems best to let everyone avoid possible bad driving/commuting conditions —and have time to prepare for the coming of yet lots more snow through tomorrow. What a week it has been!

Note to Dancers: Please think of this snow day as a perfect opportunity to practice-practice-practice at home!   Keep warm and well.

Gretchen, Anjali Nath, and Chhandika Teachers

A week in residency, an injection of wisdom and training for a lifetime!

By Aditi Amlani, Chitresh Das Youth Company Member, Graduate student at Boston Univerity.

The sound of the tabla (drums) resonates throughout the room and guides the dancers as they take 27 chakkars, or heel turns, for the third time in a row. The Chhandika Youth Ensemble dancers have been doing footwork, turns, recitation and singing for the past two hours, all while wearing ghungroo, or weighted bells. There is a unique and strong energy in the room, pushing the dancers past their perceived physical and mental limits. This powerful energy comes from their Dadaji, who is at the front of the room playing the tabla and encouraging the dancers, “don’t stop, children… even if you make a mistake, keep going”. World-renowned Kathak maestro, Pandit Chitresh Das, along with senior disciple, Charlotte Moraga, spent four days in Boston injecting energy and knowledge of this complex Indian classical art form. This was a part of the Artist-in-Residence program sponsored by Chhandika Institute of Kathak. Classes were held in Somerville, Cambridge, Burlington and Brighton for Chhandika students from October 16 – 19. Students came from New York and even as far as Florida to experience this enriching and inspiring weekend.

At 70 years old, Pt. Das is only getting stronger and faster by the year. His morning routine consists of running seven miles on the treadmill, followed by a couple hours of dance practice. He is constantly pushing the limits of the dance while staying steadfast to its roots. Though one of the foremost Kathak artists busy with his own performance schedule, he believes deeply in the Guru-Shishya Parampara (guru-disciple tradition).

Pt. Das was able to teach students of all levels seamlessly in one class, while still challenging every single person. He would have one group learn the simpler footwork version of a piece, while having senior dancers lead the other group in a choreography version. All the while during classes, he reminds students that the lessons in the dance room can really be applied to all aspects of life. Upaj, or improvisation, is an integral skill to be a solo artist and perform with musicians. However, it is also necessary for every context, to be ready for any obstacle that comes our way.

He ends each class by telling students and guests to ask him questions, as he is eager and willing to discuss the necessity of art in today’s world, his experiences and struggles to bring Kathak to the West, and the history and philosophy associated with the dance.

On Sunday afternoon, the Boston community was lucky enough to get a glimpse of the breadth and depth of Pandit Das’ work in an open class.  The Chhandam Youth Ensemble demonstrated his innovation of Kathak Yoga.  The dancers did the fast footwork of a composition, sang the melody, and played manjira (finger symbals) to keep the underlying rhythm, essentially becoming their own musicians. We then witnessed Charlotte Moraga, along with senior dancers, Anjali Nath and Shefali Jain, rehearse a scene of the powerful production, Shiva, which will be performed by the Chitresh Das Dance Company in Berkeley, California in March. Just this open class and rehearsal received a standing ovation from those present.

This weekend inspired dancers to continue studying Kathak deeply and practicing intensely. It prompted observers of his classes to ask larger questions – where does Indian culture stand today and what is our role in upholding these great traditions? It made each and every individual present feel the positive environment, which served as a reminder of the power of the dance as a “meditation in motion”, in the words of Pt. Das.

The week in residency was captured wonderfully by Manju Sheth, which featured Pandit Das in her Chai with Manju celebrity series. The link is below:

November Arts Events–Support Chhandika’s Community Partners

Kathak Accelerated Study
at Marlborough Branch


November 1st, 2014

Immerse yourself in the study of Kathak, with intense footwork, bol/ paran, Hindustani music and songs, abhinaya and history. Includes a special music workshop with George Ruckert and abhinaya workshop with Gretchen Hayden.

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Hindustani Classical Music Workshops
with George Ruckert 


November 15th – 16th, 2014

Introduction to Hindustani classical music, sargam, taal and theory. Free and open to the public; reservations required. Click below for details on timing and location.

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A Disappearing Number


October 16th – November 16th, 2014

A production of drama, theatre, dance and music
Central Square Theatre, Cambridge MA
Pre-Show Symposium w/ Gretchen Hayden, Nov 1st 7pm
Click here for tickets! (Chhandika Discount: SPEAKER)

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Nrityotsav – Festival of Indian Dance


November 8th, 2014

A day-long festival of Indian classical dance
Casey Theatre, Regis College Fine Arts Center
Click here for tickets!
Chhandika Discount: Username – Nrityotsav204
Password – ditixNu14

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The Mahabarata
by Jean-Claude Carriere


October 25th – 26th, 2014

Story of the great Indian epic Mahabharata
Emerson/ Paramount Center Mainstage
Click here for tickets! 

At nearly 70, Pandit Chitresh Das delivers an energy- and inspiration-filled residency

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Pandit Chitresh Das, guru to Gretchen Hayden, spent a week in Boston recently, running a series of classes and events for Chhandika’s students. Read all about it here in an India New England article with photos or scroll down for the text below. But first: check out this feature below! (Click on image for link to article.)

Dadaji DNA article

Chhandika Hosts Ten-Day Kathak Dance Residency with Pandit Chitresh Das
By Gretchen Hayden
(originally published in India New England on 4/17/14)

April 14th is the birthday anniversary of the late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan— guru of my husband, George Ruckert. We are remembering him fondly, respectfully and with immense gratitude—for his unique contributions to the world as a brilliant musician; for his untiring dedication as a teacher; for the role he played in establishing Hindustani music in the United States and globally; and for bringing a young Chitresh Das to develop a Kathak dance program at his Ali Akbar College of Music (San Rafael, California) in 1971.

This is the world I entered in 1972, as a young dance student, and where I eventually became a disciple of world-renowned Kathak master Pt. Chitresh Das. On this birthday remembrance in 2014, we reflect on the enormous, far-reaching contributions of these two giant artists over the decades since we first came into their presence. Khansahib may no longer be amongst us, but his music lives on and his teachings are carried forth by his senior disciples—some who began training with him as early as 1966. My Guruji is very much with us—here and globally! And he recently came to a Boston for a weeklong residency, teaching and diligently passing on the Kathak tradition to the next generation of students at the Chhandika Institute of Kathak.

April 5th—2014:
Entering through the back door, I am guided by the richly textured sounds of tabla mingled with singing, recitation, voiced instruction, footwork, and ringing ghungru drifitng through the halls and down the stairs. The sound grows louder as I reach the second floor, opening the door to behold a large room filled with pulsating energy. Swirling and sweating Chhandika students of all ages are being led by Pandit Das, as he alternates from playing driving rhythms on the tabla and dancing in front of the class—all the while reciting and/or speaking to those present. Family and guests are seated in chairs lining the surrounding walls. Exhilaration and intensity fill the air, as one is soon transported to a world all its own!

This was the culminating event of a ten-day artist-in-residence program sponsored by Chhandika Institute of Kathak Dance, as we hosted classes and events with Guruji throughout the week. Those who are familiar with the work of Pandit Das know he is one of the most dynamic and far-reaching artists to have emerged from modern India. A prolific artist, his performance, choreography and dynamic teachings have influenced the evolution of this worldwide art form. Based on his concept of “innovation within tradition,” he continually refines his artistry, while exploring the boundaries of Kathak dance and performance, creating compelling new works and techniques deeply rooted in the traditions of Kathak.

As a committed guru, he has trained many dancers who have gone on to establish their own careers in dance. A few disciples have taken it a step further, establishing kathak institutions in India, Los Angeles, Toronto, and here in Boston—Chhandika. With a group of dedicated students, I founded Chhandika Institute of Kathak Dance in 2002 with the aspiration to pass on the Kathak tradition and Guruji’s teachings in the Boston area. Through dance classes for all ages, community outreach and professional performances, we aim to share this rich Kathak legacy with the wider New England community.

We have hosted Guruji and the Chitresh Das Dance Company in the Boston area since 1995 and began presenting more formal residencies in 2002, when Chhandika became a non-profit organization.

These residencies present Chhandika students the opportunity to study directly with Pandit Das, while at the same time exposing their families and the greater Indian community to his unique approach of using Kathak as a vehicle for self-awareness and for understanding life’s deeper lessons. Indeed, his teachings go far beyond the steps taken on the dance floor. They tap directly into the vein of Indian culture, while incorporating Vedic philosophy, mathematics, history, and yoga.

At the core is a set of guiding principles that have been conveyed to his students ever since he began teaching classes to Westerners in 1971. Over the decades they have been crystallized into the eloquently stated Nine Principles of Chhandam. These span from attitude/ etiquette, systematic training and deep knowledge to devotional practice and selfless service.

Dr. Manju Sheth, a board certified physician at Lahey health, community leader and President of Indian Medical Association of New England 2013, reflected on the far-reaching, holistic nature of the teachings by sharing a personal story with those present at the master class on April 5th.

“As a young child, my sister-in-law Ushma studied Kathak with Pandit-ji’s Guruji, Pandit Ram Narayan Misra in Kolkata . Later in life, my sister-in-law suffered from Rheumatoid arthritis. I believe that the intense training required to learn Kathak teaches you value of discipline and hard work. I also believe that learning dance at an early age is good for your muscles and overall fitness for life,” said Dr. Sheth. “I have always noted that dancers have very strong leg muscles . I think this intense training in childhood and her passion for dancing into her adult life helped my sister-in-law recover faster after her knee replacement surgery for arthritis. In my book, optimum health is best achieved with multiple modalities including dance, yoga and meditation. Dance like other aerobic exercises is also known to release endorphins which helps in stress management, anxiety and depression.”

Dr. Sheth said that her daughter, Shaleen, benefitted immensely from her kathak classes with Gretchen as young child. “On a side note, it was an honor to watch Pandit Chitresh Das conduct a kathak class. It is amazing see how he blends in the traditions of an ancient dance and yet teaches kids in the language that they can identify with including talking about Facebook and other social media . I was extremely impressed. We are very blessed that Panditji makes a yearly trip to meet and teach his students in Boston. It was truly an unforgettable experience.”

“I am not a dance teacher, I am a dance preacher,” Guruji once stated many years ago. Those fortunate enough to experience his master class and Q/A on April 5th received an inspirational and memorable taste of the wisdom he imparts, as he brilliantly danced, played tabla, spoke, joked, coaxed, nudged, and infused each participant with the bright light he imparted to all present.

 

UPAJ:Improvise ~ The long awaited movie comes to PBS on Monday, Jan 20th

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Be sure to watch or set your TV to record!

TV Premiere Times In Your City:
Boston, MA
January 20, 2014            8:00pm                WGBH World
January 21, 2014            2:00pm                WGBH World
San Francisco, CA
January 21, 2014              11:00am*             KQED World
*Bay Area primetime broadcast in March, details coming soon!

Los Angeles, CA
January 20, 2014             9:00pm               PBS SoCal World
January 21, 2014             11:00am             PBS SoCal World

New York City, NY
January 20, 2014             8:00pm              WLIW World
January 21, 2014             2:00pm              WLIW World

Chicago, IL
January 20, 2014            7:00pm               WTTW Create

New Orleans, LA
January 20, 2014            7:00pm                WYES World
January 21, 2014            1:00pm                WYES World

Chhandika Beat ~ Newsletter Fall 2013

Click below to view Chhandika’s latest newsletter:

ChhandikaBeatFall2013

Highlights include:

  • Upcoming kathak and sarod concert with Gretchen Hayden and George Ruckert on March 2nd in Cambridge
  • New classes slated to start in Marlboro in January
  • Residency by Pandit Chitresh Das in March/April
  • An update regarding new directors at Brighton and Marlboro branches
  • The return to Boston of kathak dancer and soloist Anjali Nath after several years of study in California
  • And much more!

Donate easily to Chhandika while you shop

This holiday season, it has become even easier to support Chhandika. You can support this classical Indian art just by doing your regular holiday shopping! Amazon has just launched its AmazonSmile program, which donates 0.5% of the price of customer purchases to the non-profit organization of that customer’s choice. Participating is a breeze:

Step 1: Visit smile.amazon.com.

Step 2: Log in using your regular Amazon account information.

Step 3: Enter “Chhandam Institute of Kathak Dance” in the field to select the charity.

That’s it. You should see the AmazonSmile logo appear in the left hand corner, and “Supporting: Chhandam Institute of Kathak Dance, Inc.”

Your purchases and related donations will help support Chhandika and our programs. Thank you!

Chhandika opens a new branch in Chelmsford, MA

Chhandika is excited to announce the opening of a new branch in Chelmsford, MA, with classes for beginner children, teens and adults.

Thursday, September 12th: New branch opens in Chelmsford. Classes for beginners at Chelmsford Center for the Arts (1 North Road)
4:30 to 5:30 pm Beginner Children
5:30 to 6:30 pm Beginner Teens/Adults
Click here for online payment.

Saturday, September 14th, 2:00 to 3:00 pm: Free Kathak Performance & Open House at the Chelmsford Center for the Arts (1 North Road)

Come watch performances by senior Chhandika dancers (including Anjali Nath, member of the Chitresh Das Dance Company) and chat with branch director Shelley Chhabra.