Chitresh Das Dance Company Archive

The award-winning Chitresh Das Dance Company, founded by Pandit Chitresh Das in 1980, was the first all-American kathak company that not only annually toured the U.S. and 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 the company’s 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. CDDC dancers exemplified Das’ emphasis on the technical, graceful, and dramatic aspects of kathak dance.

Darbar 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. Performances: Asian Art Museum [2012]
Artistic Director: Pandit Chitresh Das
Set & Lighting Design: Matthew Antaky
Performers: Chitresh Das Dance Company: Charlotte Moraga, Seibi Lee, Rachna Nivas, Rina Mehta, Joanna Meinl, Cimeron Ahluwalia, Seema Mehta, Labonee Mohanta, Sonali Toppur, Sneha Patkar, Ritu Mathur, Nilima Dave, Darlene Dhillon, Doli Bambhania, Aarohi Bhargava, Preeti Mann, Poonam Narkar, Neerja Sinha, Archana Patkar, Sylvie Baudart, Emily Mason, Ramesh Mishra (sarangi), Mala Ganguly (vocal), Abhijit Banerjee (tabla), Debashish Sarkar (vocals/harmonium), Ben Kunin (sarod), Jayanta Banerjee (sitar), and Antara Bhardwaj (narration)
Sita Haran 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.
Performances: Cowell Theatre [World Premiere, 2009], Yerba Buena Center for the Arts [2010], Birla Sabhaghar, Kolkata [2010], Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts [2013], Wellesley College [2013]
Artistic Director: Pandit Chitresh Das
Composer & Arranger: Jayanta Banerjee
Multimedia: Jim French
Lighting Design: David Robertson
Performers: 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, and Neerja Sinha
Master of Tradition Master of Tradition This exhilarating tour-de-force solo performance features Pandit Chitresh Das, accompanied by an orchestra of renowned musicians. The traditional kathak solo is the ultimate expression of an artist’s many years of training and honing of their craft. It is a feat of strength and endurance; artistic creativity and finesse; pure dance and storytelling. Every aspect of the art form is shown in the solo including Vandana (invocation), Thaat (contrasting elegant and crisp stances punctuated with flourishes of footwork and turns), Bol/Paran (recitation and presentation of complex compositions), Thumri (often sung by the dancer and expressed with poignant gestures, and Gat Bhao (storytelling). In these excerpts from the three sold out performances at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, we see the centered depth of Das’ creativity, his razor sharp and agile rhythmic footwork and composition, and the great dynamic range of his dramatic expression. Highlights of this show include Das' charming expression in famed song, "Mohe panghat pe," his gut-wrenching rendition of "Draupadi Vrastra Haran," and his trademark ending song, "Sri Krishna Chaitanya." Performances: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts [2008]
Artistic Director: Pandit Chitresh Das
Performers: Pandit Chitresh Das, Bhavani Shankar (pakhawaj), Shweta Jhaveri (vocal), Abhijit Banerjee (tabla), Jayanta Banerjee (sitar), Rohan Mishra (sarangi), Seibi Lee (swarmandal), Leah Brown (manjira), Rachna Nivas (manjira), and Sarah Morelli (tanpura)
Shabd Shabd Being established in America, Das often found himself without the musical support, both rhythmic and melodic, that was so 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 lahara (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. Performances: Cowell Theatre [2007], Yerba Buena Center for the Arts [2010], RedCAT [2010], National Center for Performing Arts, Mumbai [2010], Shaniwarvada Festival, Pune [2010], Banglore Club [2010], G.D. Birla Sabhaghar, Kolkata [2010], Chicago Kathak Festival [2010], Zellerbach Hall [2012], Sanskriti Festival [2013]
Artistic Director: Pandit Chitresh Das
Set & Lighting Design:
Performers: Chitresh Das Dance Company - Seibi Lee, Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, Joanna Meinl, Rachna Nivas, Rina Mehta, Anjali Nath, and Dmitra Smith
India Jazz Suites India Jazz Suites 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 ten years, including six 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. Notable Performances Include: Cowell Theater [2005], Kathak at the Crossroads Festival, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, The Egg, American Dance Festival, Duke University [2006], National Folk Festival, University of Denver, Kolkata Consulate, Birla Sabhagar, Kolkata, Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi, New Delhi Embassy, Calcutta Club, Mumbai Consulate [2007], US Consulate 50th Anniversary, Mumbai, Bryn Mawr College, National Folk Festival, Bangor Mood Indigo Festival, IIT Mumbai [2008], National Center for Performing Arts, Mumbai, India 50th Anniversary Festival, IIT Kharagpur, Leeward Community College, Maui Arts and Cultural Center, Kahilu Theater, Kirkland Center [2009], World Music/CRASHarts [2010], Carpenter Center, Portland Ovations [2011], Flynn Center [2012] Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, IIT Guwahati, Assam, Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu , Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center [2013], Grand Performances [2014]
Artistic Director: Pandit Chitresh Das, co-created with Jason Samuels Smith
Set and Lighting Design: Matthew Antaky
Performers: Kousic Sen (tabla), Pandit Ramesh Mishra (sarangi), Jayanta Banerjee (sitar), Swapnamoy Banerjee (sarod), Leah Brown (tanpura), Jason Martineau (piano), André Sumelius (drums), Channing Cook Holmes (drums), Marcus Shelby (bass), and Sarah Morelli (tanpura)

Pancha Jati 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.
Performances: Cowell Theatre [2002], Mexican Heritage Theater [2002], Yerba Buena Center for the Arts [2006 & 2014]
Artistic Director: Pandit Chitresh Das
Music Director: Jayanta Banerjee
Lighting Design: Matthew Antaky
Performers: Chitresh Das Dance Company - Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, Rachna Nivas, Rina Mehta, Antara Bhardwaj, and Labonee Mohanta
Sadhana Sadhana At the beginning of the 2000’s, Das turned his focus first inward to delve into his own personal history and philosophy with the autobiographical production, Sadhana. A tour-de-force solo production, Sadhana uses multimedia to immerse the audience in evocative glimpses of the India that surrounded his daily practice of ancient India and that influenced the vision that he crossed oceans to bring to America.
Performances: Cowell Theatre [2002], Mexican Heritage Theater [2002]
Artistic Director and Solo Kathak Artist: Pandit Chitresh Das
Multimedia Videography & Editing: Ajoy Roy
Multimedia Editing: Sourav Sringi
Set and Lighting Design: Matthew Antaky
Gold Rush Gold Rush Gold Rush is a reflection of Das' passion for history and belief that one should always connect with the history of the land one is on. Gold Rush is a dance drama that brought to life the quintessential story of California, told through traditional kathak dance and North Indian classical music but replete with scenes reminiscent of a hoe down, digging for gold, a saloon, gunslingers, and the mariachi music brought by the Mexican mine workers. Performances: Cowell Theater
Artistic Director: Pandit Chitresh Das
Composer: George Ruckert
Performers: Shoshona Frisch, Gretchen Hayden, Jane Simmons, Michelle Zonka, Sushmita Banerjee, Anjali Jhangiani, George Ruckert (vocal, fiddle, sarod, piano, synthesizer), Brian Godden (guitar), Pranesh Khan (tabla), John Pedersen (banjo), and James Pomerantz (sitar)
Class Tech Class Tech Class Tech presents the company in a fast-paced modern theme using pure classical technique while reflecting the early 80s aesthetic of Jane Fonda-esque bodysuits, tights, and leg warmers. Performances: Forest Meadows
Artistic Director: Pandit Chitresh Das
Performers: Julia Maxwell, Joanna De Souza, Marni Wiesner Ris, Noelle Barton, Michelle Zonka, Jane Simmons, Pandit Chitresh Das (tabla), Ritesh Das (tabla), Christopher Ris (sarod), and Dallas Smith (saxophone)

Slide Gold Rush Premiered at Cowell Theater in 2002
in San Francisco
Premiered in 2002 at Cowell Theater
in San Francisco
Premiered in 2005 at Cowell Theater
in San Francisco
Shabd Premiered in 1990 at Cowell Theater
in San Francisco
India Jazz Suites Pancha Jati Premiered in 1984
in Forest Meadows
Darbar Sita Haran Master of Tradition Sadhana Class Tech Premiered in 2008 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco Premiered in 2009 at Cowell Theater
in San Francisco
Premiered in 2007 at Cowell Theater
in San Francisco
Premiered in 2012 at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco
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