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Published on Dec 10, 2007
This work-in-progress premiere of Shabd (meaning sound or word) is the first time Pandit Das' Kathak Yoga technique is being brought to the main stage, performed by members of the Chitresh Das Dance Company: Seibi Lee, Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, Joanna Meinl, Rachna Nivas, Anjali Nath, Rina Mehta and Dmitra Smith. The dancers perform in both a 9-1/2 beat cycle (sare-nau matra) and a 16 beat cycle in different layas (tempos) Kathak Yoga is one of Pandit Chitresh Dasís innovations within tradition. The dancer simultaneously performs rhythmic composition through footwork, movement and expression while simultaneously reciting the underlying rhythmic structure (theka) and singing the corresponding rhythmic melody (lehara). Pandit Das also adds the element of playing an instrument on tabla, harmonimum or manjira (finger cymbals). Kathak Yoga is a unique and virtuosic practice requiring the dancer to integrate mind, body and spirit, with the goal of achieving pure bhakti through the dance. Pandit Das' innovation of Kathak Yoga exemplifies the idea that one does not have to go outside of one's own tradition to innovate. Kathak Yoga and Pandit Das' work in Kathak was the subject of Dr. Sarah Morelli's PhD dissertation at Harvard University.