Pandit Chitresh Das and Jason Samuels Smith, the “Fastest Feet in Rhythm,” are wrapping up a 5 city India tour, ending with a solo performance by Pandit Das at 8:30 pm tonight at the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in Ahmedabad. Pandit Das and Jason Samuels Smith were in Chennai on 1/22, Mumbai on 1/26, Bangalore on 1/29 and Goa on 1/31, performing to packed and enthusiastic audiences.
Pandit Das, master kathak dancer, and Jason Samuels Smith, Emmy award winning jazz tap dancer, began a collaboration over eight years ago which has yielded an almost magical partnership with some phenomenal dance outcomes. (And mark your calendars for their upcoming performance in Boston on April 20-22!)
This photo and others from the Chennai performance available to view here.
And below is a note from Labonee Mohanta, a dancer and performer with the Chitresh Das Dance Company, that captures the exhilaration and energy of the tour:
After Guruji’s Mumbai solo, we headed out to Chennai on an early flight. We land, get to where we’re staying, and makeshift a rehearsal room for Fastest Feet. We find a piece of broken / crooked wood that Jason somehow can rehearse on. Jason and Guruji start pounding away- the energy is brought to Chennai immediately. We then proceed to a press meet where newsreporters are awaiting, cameras are flashing, and Jason, Guruji, Seema, Seema’s cousin Suraj and other Kirtilal members are lined up behind the podium in their jewelry store in front of jewelry that we cannot fathom the price of. There they speak about bringing the classical art of the Shinde jewelry exhibition together with the classical art show of Fastest Feet. The next day is extremely exhausting, as the sound / tech people are trying to scramble together such a highly fine-tuned, technical production. Guruji performed Sita Haran, and in this particular show he had the mridangam player Ramakrishnan as well… so the stage came alive in a special way with the rhythms and stories of South India ringing in everyone’s ears as they completed their 1st show of the Fastest Feet Winter tour.
Back to Mumbai – this was yet another special show for so many reasons! Fastest Feet clearly has much love here in Mumbai! The two days before the show we had press (newspapers, TV, radio, etc.) over interviewing Guruji and Jason. In addition to Fastest Feet, we opened the show with children of Chhandam-Mumbai giving the invocation. [Roaring claps from the 1000-seat sold-out audience!!] Then an advanced young childrens’ group performing, to the adults performing a very catchy piece to Debashisda singing a Rajasthani tune. After that I performed, and then Fastest Feet began. This was a really significant beginning because it represented the legacy that Guruji created in India! And the show being done on India’s Republic Day- how fantastic. Seema Mehta spearheading all of this on her own, added the perfect touch by putting a giant Indian flag in the backdrop for this auspicious occasion. Then every single piece in Fastest Feet gets roaring claps of thunder and shouts, waves of energy being bounced back and forth between Guruji, Jason, the musicians, and the audience… sheer excitement and joy emanating from TATA Theater for 2 hours straight! Finishing emotionally with Raghupathi Raghava and Sare Jahan Se Accha, Guruji and Jason bowing down to the flag, and then ending in each others arms… magical.