Some times give rise to a point of reflection. It may be a birthday, an anniversary, or in this case moving into the collective third decade of the 21st century.
January 4-11, 2020 set a tone where deeply connected community, honoured the past with our collective histories, and joyfully danced into the future with each sunrise. This fantastic event was a joint collaboration with Chhandam Nriyta Bharati (Mumbai), Chhandika (Boston) and M-DO/KathakToronto (Toronto), with a special thanks to Dishita in the Mumbai office for all her work coordinating things for us, on the ground.
January 4 marked the 5th death anniversary of our Guruji, and we personally marked this with a sunrise havan, singing his favourite slokas, a few of his compositions, and dancing tatkar in the early morning grass.
Thirty of us gathered for 8 days at the glorious Art Village, in Karjat, Maharastra, for time filled with dance, music, learning, collaborating, laughing and of course eating. The kitchen chefs at Art Village often picked vegees right out of the garden and created masterpieces for our table!
Together in dance, Madhuri(di) Devi Singh, Guru-sister of our Guruji, Pt. Chitresh Das, Gretchen Hayden-Ruckert, along with some of her students from Boston, Joanna de Souza, and students from Toronto, Seema Mehta, and students from Mumbai, represented a span of 7 decades on the kathak dance floor, and all madly danced for the week, accompanied by the amazing live music of Santosh Naidu (tabla) and Ian de Souza (bass).
Madhuri-di shared songs from her extensive thumri repertoire, (complete with literally hundreds of possible dramatic interpretations) and both Gretchen and Joanna shared compositions they received over many decades of serious study.
We also experienced some of the unique expertise within our community through a number of special workshops:
Western Rhythms for kathak dancers with Ian and Santosh, a Revolution in Motion introduction workshop with Raina Gagrat, and a Yoga Alignment session with Crystal D’Silva. Crystal, also a serious Salsera (Salsa dancer) graced us all with a Salsa presentation!
Personal investment, through regular practise, is the foundation of our lineage. This ultimately leads to each dancer creating from their unique voice. Over the course of the week, we all experienced some of Guruji’s past Gold Rush choreography- with the Gun Fighter scene (so much fun). This full production is presently being brought to new life by Gretchen and the Boston crew. Kiran Phull (Toronto) performed Tap Root, a past choreography of Joanna’s with music from the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, and collectively we worked on a section of this – equally fun!
With a commitment to this experience of concentrated retreat-like learning, and the personal transformation it allows, M-DO/KathakToronto, and our sister organizations help facillitate annual learning situations in Canada, the US and special India retreat experiences, every other year.