CDDC Archive

The Chitresh Das Dance Company was the first all-American kathak company that not only annually toured India to critical acclaim, but was the first non-Western dance company to ever receive the coveted “Company Grant” from the National Endowment for the Arts. Over its ensuing 40 year history, Das created some 50 new works, including ground-breaking productions that were evocative and commanding, combining the richness of ancient India with a fiery, contemporary sensibility.

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Z Space, San Francisco [World Premiere, 2013]
Cal Performances , Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley [2016]
Conceived and Choreographed by Pandit Chitresh Das
Original Music Score composed by Jayanta Banerjee
Lighting Design by Dave Robertson
Performed by Chitresh Das Dance Company - Charlotte Moraga, Seibi Lee,
Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, Rachna Nivas, Anjali Nath, Antara Bhardwaj, Labonee Mohana,
Cimeron Ahluwalia, Ritu Mathur, Shefali Jain, Poonam Narkar, Preeti Mann
Photo credit: Margo Moritz
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Shiva

Shiva embodies Chitresh Das’ powerful vision of the numinous forces surrounding and pervading the concept of Lord Shiva. In Shiva, Das explored the world of the Shiva-worshipping tantrics, the ascetics who renounce everything in order to seek a connection to the divine through intensive yogic practices and rituals, including chanting and deep meditation. The various techniques practiced, many of which are viewed as extreme by Indian society, enable the tantric to test his or her ability to see the divine in everything, such as meditating while sitting on dead bodies, eating scraps to survive, and eating and drinking out of human skulls. Das grew up in Kolkata, India, a center of tantra. He was fascinated by the tantric sadhus he saw while visiting holy cities and temples as a child with his family. Inspired by his own experience and curiosity, he created this work on tantrics, innovating far beyond traditional kathak subject matter.
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Pancha Jati

In Pancha Jati, Das brings together North and South Indian percussion and world-class musicians to create an explosive performance rooted in the ancient energy of India with movement that is both austere and lush. Unlike traditional kathak performances, this work features only pure dance and no narrative story. Here the story is one of movement, rhythm and music. Many sections are without accompaniment, highlighting the dancers’ roles as percussionists through footwork and recitation.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco [Re-choreographed, 2014]
Conceived, Choreographed, Composed by Pandit Chitresh Das
Music Direction by Jayanta Banerjee
Lighting Design by Matthew Antaky
Performed by Chitresh Das Dance Company - Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, Rachna Nivas, Rina Mehta, Antara Bhardwaj, Labonee Mohanta
Photo courtesy of SfBay
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Concept and Choreography by Pandit Chitresh Das
Performed by the Chitresh Das Dance Company:
Seibi Lee, Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, Joanna Meinl, Rachna Nivas, Rina Mehta, Anjali Nath, Dmitra Smith
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Shabd

Over the years in America, Das often found himself without the musical support both rhythmic and melodic that was readily available in India. In his own practice, he began to draw inspiration from the feats of the mind and body accomplished through rigorous practice by sadhus or yogis (spiritual ascetics) and developed his hallmark technique - Kathak Yoga wherein the practitioner embodies both dancer and musician. Das trained his students to sing the lehara (cyclic melody), recite bols (syllables outlining the beat cycle) while dancing opposing rhythms with complex footwork and compositions. Das added the multiplicity of instrumentation, accompanying himself with tabla and his students followed suit with playing of manjira (finger cymbals), harmonium (small hand-pumped organ) and various other instruments. Beginning as a pedagogy of practice, Das evolved Kathak Yoga choreographically to the performance stage and premiered his masterpiece Shabd in 2007.
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Toured to over 30 cities and venues across U.S., Canada, India, Australia [2005-2015]
Conceived by Pandit Chitresh Das
Co-created by Pandit Chitresh Das and Jason Samuels Smith
Photo credit for some photos Marty Sohl
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India Jazz Suites
“Alone, they’re captivating. Together, they’re magic.”
– Allan Ulrich, Voice of Dance
India Jazz Suites (called Fastest Feet in Rhythm in India), featuring Pandit Chitresh Das and Jason Samuels Smith, was an explosive collaboration between one of India’s foremost kathak masters and one of the world’s fastest, Emmy-award winning tap dancers. The result was high entertainment which crossed all boundaries of age, race, and culture – a blast of incredible speed and power, grace and beauty, epic storytelling and the pure joy of dance. After premiering in San Francisco in 2005, India Jazz Suites received extensive critical acclaim and toured globally for 10 years, including 6 tours to India with its last India tour being funded by a joint initiative between the U.S. State Department and Indian government. It was chosen as the #1 Dance Performance by the San Francisco Chronicle, listed in Top Picks by the Boston Globe, won the Isadora Duncan Dance Award (Izzie) for Best Ensemble Performance of the Year. India Jazz Suites led to the making of a documentary Upaj:Improvise, which screened at film festivals worldwide and aired nationally in the U.S. on PBS.
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Darbar

Darbar (translated as “the court”) highlights the artistic renaissance that took place in the courts of North India as well as the methodology of divide and rule utilized by the British to conquer India and eventually dissolve the same courts. The story is loosely based on that of king Wajid Ali Shah, a ruler known both for his decadence and for his revival of kathak. Ali Shah, so distracted by his indulgences, failed to notice that his general was being tempted by the British to betray him. Darbar is both a representation of the rich artistic and cultural legacy of the courts of North India as well as a statement about the responsibility of power and the risk of corruption—concepts still relevant today.
Asian Art Museum,San Francisco [2012]
Conceived and Choreographed by Pandit Chitresh Das
Performed by Chitresh Das Dance Company
Set and Lighting Design: Matthew Antaky
Photo credit: Margo Moritz and Matt Sumner
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Sita Haran

In this dramatic staging of Sita Haran, Pandit Chitresh Das retells the timeless story of the Ramayana, focusing on the episode of Princess Sita’s abduction by the King of Lanka, Ravan, followed by Ram and Lakshman’s search for her. The story is told in the dynamic Kathak style with compelling abhinaya (expression), movement, music, rhythm and multimedia. Das digs deeply into this popular tale, exploring the contradictions and complexities inherent in the characters’ personalities, while also revealing their depth and humanity. Das unveils what makes this story relevant even today.
Cowell Theatre, San Francisco [World Premiere, 2009] | Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco [2010] | Birla Sabhaghar, Kolkata, India [2010] |
Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts, Arizona [2013] | Wellesley College, Boston [2013]
Conceived, Choreographed, Composed by Pandit Chitresh Das
Original Score arranged by Jayanta Banerjee
Multimedia, Jim French
Lighting Design, Dave Robertson
Performed by Chitresh Das Dance Company - Charlotte Moraga, Seibi Lee, Joanna Meinl, Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, Rachna Nivas, Rina Mehta, Anjali Nath, Cimeron Ahluwalia, Antara Bhardwaj, Labonee Mohanta, Poonam Narkar, Neerja Sinha
Photo credit: Brooke Duthie
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Sampurnam

Meaning wholeness or complete, Sampurnam is an exploration into the boundaries and depth of Kathak’s percussive footwork that become the bodies voice, swift and sharp movement, and into the energy and vitality of ancient India through shlokam, or chanted verse.
Cowell Theater, San Francisco [World Premiere, 2004]
Conceived and choreographed by Pandit Chitresh Das
Performed by Pandit Chitresh Das and CDDC Members - Charlotte Moraga, Jaiwanti Das Pamnani,
Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, Seibi Lee, Joanna Meinl, Leah Brown, Rachna Nivas, Rina Mehta, Anjali Nath, Cimeron Ahluwalia
Musicians – Abijit Banerjee (tabla), Kousic Sen (tabla), Swampnamoy Banejee (sarod), Mala Ganguly (vocal)
Photo credit: Marty Sohl
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Yatra

Yatra: Journey from India to Spain is a collaboration between kathak master Pandit Chitresh Das and Spanish flamenco artist Antonio Hidalgo Paz in an innovative, spirited work exploring the historical context of their two respective classical art forms. Featuring live Indian classical musicians alongside Flamenco musicians. Presented in partnership with 3rdi South Asian Film Festival and featuring multi-media connecting the performance into a narrative of artistic journey and shared heritage.
Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco [World Premiere, 2014]
Conceived by Pandit Chitresh Das
Co-created by Pandit Chitresh Das and Antonio Hidalgo Paz
Musical Artists: Debashis Sarkar, Jayanta Banerjee, Satyaprakash Misra, Francisco Orozco
Multi-media by Alka Raghuram
Additional performers, Chitresh Das Dance Company - Charlotte Moraga, Seibi Lee, Rachna Nivas, Labonee Mohanta, Cimeron Ahluwalia
Photos credit: Matt Sumner
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