Pandit Chitresh Das talks to TOI about Kathak Yoga, his collaboration with tap dancing and more...
Pandit Chitresh Das, one of the finest exponents of dance, has brought newness to one of the oldest forms of traditional Indian classical dance forms of India - Kathak. He is not only known for his mastery in Kathak, but has made a name for himself through his 'collaboration', as he calls it with tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith.
So how did the collaboration took place? He says, "I was in San Fransico for a dance festival where we met each other and I always wanted to collaborate and do something new. So this was a fortunate meeting with Jason, who looked equally excited with the idea."
He adds talking about India Jazz Suits, "It was the raw energy of the two oldest dance forms (Tap and Kathak) that made our collaboration a success. We both belong to the same old school of Upaj (improvisation) and we both do our own styles of dance without changing the basics. This is why I don't call it fusion."
Chitresh Das has also invented what he calls Kathak Yoga, a medium of meditating through taals and thekas. He says, "It would be difficult to explain it in words as there is a lot that goes into it. The feet movement, the verbal chants of taals and the concentration to keep the taal intact is what makes it difficult as well as effective. It gives me inner strength and the energy to keep going. It's like meditation for me."
So is that the reason he is still just as agile at this age (62)? He says with pride, "I inventedKathak yoga and of course it is the reason." Panditji is also a revered teacher of Kathak with his school branches all over the world. He says, "I teach people of all ages especially young children, because they need to strike the right balance between our ancient medieval Indian tradition and modernity. I never allow my students to touch my feet and keep my picture in their homes."
So does he feel musical training should be compulsory for children during their growing up years. He says, "I would say it should be available to everyone and should be taught with patience and passion." But isn't the young generation getting more attracted to Bollywooddances? He says, "Bollywood is a completely different world. I don't have any problem with contemporary dance. Short cuts is what I feel is the problem. If you like a dance form, learn it properly, don't opt for shortcuts. They want to learn quickly and that makes no sense to me."