Rita Mustaphi has been dancing for 28 years, and has choreographed more than 50 evening length works that performed locally, nationally and internationally. Her selected awards include three McKnight Fellowships for choreography, leadership award from the Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans, Lifetime achievement award from the India Association of Minnesota and Education Award from the Ordway Center of Performing Arts in the category of Excellence in Vision. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, New York; several International Kathak Dance Festival, New Delhi, India. Mustaphi is a roster artist for COMPAS, Community Programs in the Arts as well as a teaching artist for the Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts.
Anurag Sharma’s passion for dance inspired him to start learning Kathak in 2004 from Rita Mustaphi in Minneapolis, USA. Anurag attended the International Kathak Festivals in Chicago (2004 & 2009) and the Kathak workshops conducted by senior gurus and teachers from all over the world, including Kathak Maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj. As a company member of Katha Dance Theatre, he has performed in annual fall concerts since 2005; Beauty and the Beast – Kathak Dance Drama at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts in Saint Paul, Minnesota (2008); the North American Bengali Conference, Toronto, Canada (2013); the India Dance Festival with Indian Classical Music Circle in Dallas, Texas (2013). Anurag also performed as a guest artist with the Anila Sinha Foundation in Chicago (2007 & 2009). In 2014, Anurag completed 3-months of intensive training under Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj in New Delhi, India. During his training he traveled and performed with Pandit Birju Maharaj’s Dance Company in several states in India and Cleveland, OH, USA. Recently, in July 2016, Anurag had a great opportunity to tour and perform a Kathak Ballet – Romeo & Juliet with Pandit Birju Maharaj’s Dance Company at Madison Square Garden in New York; Madison, Wisconsin; and Chicago. This Romeo & Juliet concert was a beautiful adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous work in the form of a Kathak Ballet, choreographed by Pandit Birju Maharaj and Saswati Sen with unique blend of music composed by Pandit Birju Maharaj and Louis Banks. Anurag also teaches Kathak at Katha Dance Theatre.
Asha Sharma has been studying Kathak with Rita Mustaphi for 11 years and joined the board in 1998. Her select performance credits include: Naari – the Women, Sufism Remembered, Dots and Feathers, Hungry Stones (1996, 2004), Black Candle, Mother/Daughter-On the Border, Temple to Court, Abhinaya, Chitra, The Courtesans, Minneapolis Human Rhythm Project, St. Paul’s Capital New Year, Unveiling, Living Tapestry, Sister India, Ramayana and various community cultural programs. She has taken master classes with Pandit Birju Maharaj, Saswati Sen, and Sontosh Kumar. Asha teaches at the Katha Dance Theatre school and has also taught Kathak workshops at the University of Minnesota and at St. Joan of Arc Church. Asha is an attorney specializing in health law.
Derek Phillips danced and toured nationally with the Nancy Hauser Dance Company and the Children’s Theatre Company. He has been a roster artist for the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Artists-in- Education Program. He performs English country dances with Minnesota Traditional Morris, and is a teaching artist for CTC’s Neighborhood Bridges Program, the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, and the Perpich Center’s Dance Course for Educators. Derek has performed in many KDT shows since joining the Company in 1991.
Monica Singh has studied Kathak for 16 years with Rita Mustaphi. She has performed in several performances across the Twin Cities and has traveled with the katha Dance Theatre to various locations including Baltimore, Appleton, and Toronto. She has performed in numerous KDT productions since 2006. She has attended master classes with Pandit Birju Maharaj and Saswati Sen. She teaches Kathak at KDT’s Hopkins location.
Mukta Sathe learned Kathak from her guru, Sanjeevani Kulkarni in Nasik, India, and won the national “Swar Sadhana” competition while touring throughout the country. She has studied Kathak with Rita Mustaphi for ten years now and regularly performs in KDT productions. As a Company Member, her performance credits with Katha Dance Theatre include annual fall concerts since 2005. She has attended International Kathak Festival at Chicago (2004) and participated in workshops conducted by Kathak Maestro Pt. Birju Maharaji, Kumudini Lakhia and Saswati sen. Mukta also teaches Kathak at KDT’s Edina location.
Nivedita Sahni has studied at the Jaipur school of Kathak dance from guru Benny Kalra and later from Bharati Gupta at Kathak Kendra School in New Delhi, India. In Minnesota she has studied under the guidance of Rita Mustaphi for past six years and has attended workshops with Pandit Birju Maharaj and Ms. Saswati Sen.
Priyanka Jain has studied Kathak for 18 years with Rita Mustaphi and has performed in numerous KDT productions since 2005. She has performed in numerous performances across the Twin Cities and has traveled with the company to various locations including New York and Toronto. She has taken summer workshops with Pandit Birju Maharaj and Saswati Sen.
Rtusha Kulkarni learned several forms of dance that include ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop dance. Rtusha began her training with Rita Mustaphi in 2005. She has taken summer workshops conducted by Pandit Birju Maharaj and Saswati Sen. Rtusha has performed at many Katha Dance Theatre’s productions since 2008.
Sarika Haris began her dance journey with Bharatanatyam, the South Indian classical dance style, for over nine years in India. Her passion for dance motivated her to learn Kathak under Rita Mustaphi since 1999. She has attended master classes with Pandit Birju Maharaj & Saswati Sen. Sarika has performed in numerous KDT productions, including the lead role in Chandalika, the Untouchable.
Rupa Nair is trained in Bharatanatyam from Sri Rajarajeshwari Dance Academy in Mumbai. She has won awards for her school at the state and district level dance competitions. She is seeking training in Kathak under the guidance of Rita Mustaphi since 2012 and has attended workshops with Pandit Birju Maharaj and Ms. Saswati Sen.