Dancers

Rita Mustaphi

Rita Mustaphi is a choreographer, dancer and master of Kathak dance, as well as the founder of Katha Dance Theatre. She strives to create works that provoke feeling, stimulate the senses and activate the mind. A native of Kolkata, India, she graduated from University of Calcutta with major in physiology and Rabindra Bharati University with a major in dance. She is a disciple Pandit Birju Maharaj, the legendary master of Kathak dance. She began teaching in Twin Cities in 1978 and in 1987, she realized her dream of creating a professional company and school of Kathak dance—Katha Dance Theatre. KDT is Minnesota’s first Asian Indian dance company as well as one of only 12 professional Kathak companies in the U.S.

In over 30 years, Ms. Mustaphi has choreographed more than fifty evening-length works that have been performed locally, nationally and internationally. Notably, she has performed at India’s 50th Anniversary celebration at New York’s Carnegie Hall and several times over the years at the International Kathak Dance Festivals in New Delhi, India. Her choreography has been presented at the prestigious Khajuraho Dance Festival in India. Her selected choreographic credits include, Sufiana – the Sufi Ecstasy (2016), the Kathak & Chhau dance collaboration Pourush – The Masculine (2015); Rubaiyat – Life in a Day (2014), Karna – the Abandoned Hero (2013), KDT’s 25th anniversary production In Retrospect (2012), and EKAM–The Supreme Oneness (2011). Her works have been set to everything from Persian music to traditionally American jazz, gospel, and R&B.

Mustaphi is a roster artist for COMPAS, Creative Classroom’s global culture Program. She is a recipient of three McKnight Fellowships for choreography, a Leadership award from the Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans, a 2011 Lifetime Achievement award from the India Association of Minnesota and a 2012 Education award from the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in the category of Excellence in Vision. Photo by Erik Saulitis.

Mukta Sathe

Mukta Sathe first learned Kathak from Guru Sanjeevani Kulkarni in India, where she later won the national “Swar Sadhana” competition. She joined KDT as a student in 2004, eventually becoming a company member in 2007. Since then, she has performed in countless KDT productions as well as the prestigious Khajuraho Dance Festival and Chicago’s International Kathak Festival. She has also studied Kathak with masters like Pandit Birju Maharaj. Mukta has been a KDT instructor since 2007. Photo by Anjana Nair.

Anurag Sharma

Anurag Sharma joined KDT as a student in 2004 and became a company member in 2007. Throughout his many years as a professional Kathak dancer, he has studied intensively with Pandit Birju Maharaj, eventually performing with his company; danced as a guest artist with the Anila Sinha Foundation; and portrayed the lead male role in many KDT productions. In 2016, he performed in a Kathak ballet version Romeo & Juliet choreographed by Ms. Saswati Sen. In 2017, Anurag performed the lead role in Karna – The Abandoned Hero at India’s Khajuraho Dance Festival. He has been an instructor at KDT’s school since 2009. Photo by Anjana Nair.

Monica Singh

Monica Singh began training with Rita Mustaphi at age 7, and joined KDT as a company member in 2006. She has studied Kathak with masters like Pandit Birju Maharaj and Ms. Saswati Sen. Her select performance credits with KDT include The Hungry Stones (2018) Ritu – The Seasons (2017), Sufiana – the Sufi Ecstasy (2016),  Rubaiyat – Life in a Day (2014), Karna – the Abandoned Hero (2013), and In Retrospect (2012). Monica has been a KDT instructor off and on since 2012. Photo by Anjana Nair.

Nivedita Sahni

Nivedita Sahni first studied Kathak at the Jaipur school of Kathak dance and the Kathak Kendra School in New Delhi. Locally, she has studied under Rita Mustaphi for over six years and completed workshops with Pandit Birju Maharaj and Ms. Saswati Sen. Her performance credits with KDT include The Hungry Stones (2018) Pourush – the Masculine (2015), Ritu – The Seasons (2017), Sufiana – the Sufi Ecstasy (2016), Rubaiyat – Life in a Day (2014), and Karna – the Abandoned Hero (2013). Photo by Anjana Nair.

Sarika Haris

Sarika Haris began her dance journey in India, where she studied Bharatanatyam, the South Indian classical dance style, for over nine years. She joined KDT as a student in 1999. Her selected performance credits with KDT as a company member include The Hungry Stones (2018) Ritu – The Seasons (2017), Sufiana – the Sufi Ecstasy (2016), Pourush – The Masculine (2015); Rubaiyat – Life in a Day (2014), In Retrospect  (2012), and the lead role in KDT’s production of Chandalika, The Untouchable. A student of Kathak masters Pandit Birju Maharaj and Ms. Saswati Sen, she performed in India’s Khajuraho Dance Festival in 2017. Sarika has been a KDT instructor since 2017. Photo by Anjana Nair.

Rupa Nair

Rupa Nair began her dance career at Mumbai’s Sri Rajarajeshwari Dance Academy, where she studied Bharatanatyam for ten years and for which she has won awards at state and district-level dance competitions. Rupa joined KDT as a student in 2012, and has since studied Kathak with Pandit Birju Maharaj and Ms. Saswati Sen. Her performance credits with KDT include a leading role in KDT’s 2015 production of Pourush – the Masculine. Rupa has been a KDT instructor since 2018. Photo by Anjana Nair.