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Kathak E-motion

Katha Dance Theatre is proud to present a classic Kathak work in the vein of those performed for kings and emperors in 18th century India. Kathak E-motion pays homage to Kathak’s devotional roots within Hindu temples and its growing opulence as it moved to the Islamic royal courts. Underlying all aspects of E-motion is the art form’s integral expression of emotions, known as Abhinya. Using Kathak’s complex rhythms, intricate footwork, graceful movements, pirouettes, and gestural storytelling, Kathak E-motion epitomizes the form in breathtaking style.

The Program

Part 1: 75 Minutes

Tribute to Pandit Birju Maharaj
Pre-recorded video provided by KDT

Guruve Namah
Lyrics: Traditional
Composition: Pandit Birju Maharaj 
Choreography and dance: Rita Mustaphi
Vocals: Anirban Bhattacharyya

Salutation to the one who himself is the creator, the sustainer, the destroyer and ultimate consciousness. Salutations to the Guru who opened our spiritual eyes by his eyes of wisdom (spiritual eye) which were closed from our darkness of ignorance. There is no higher truth than the Guru, there is nothing higher than the realization of the knowledge of the truth imparted by the Guru. My salutation to such a Guru and who has taken up the form to bless his disciples like us with real knowledge.

Guru Charanan
Lyrics and composition: Pandit Birju Maharaj 
Choreography: Rita Mustaphi
Dancers: KDT Company
Vocals: Anirban Bhattacharyya and Pooja Goswami Pavan

I surrender to the feet of the Guru, and find my refuge in God. The guru, the dispeller of darkness is Brahma, the creator of self knowledge; the guru is Vishnu, the preserver, preserving such self knowledge and guru is Shiva, the destroyer of ignorance; the guru is the self-revealing supreme power, consiousness. Through dance and music my guru taught me wisdom and a sense of my place within a far greater reality of God. Salutations to that revered guru.

Nritta – Technical exposition of pure Kathak dance in Taal (rhythm cycle) Tintaal
‘Hari Tum Haro’ – a devotional song by Mirabai – the 15th century saint poet. Composition: Pandit Vijai Shankar. 
Choreography and dance: Rita Mustaphi
Vocals: Pooja Goswami Pavan

Hari Tum Haro: Oh Hari, oh almighty god, please remove the suffering of humanity. You protected the honor of queen Draupadi by increasing the length of her saree so she will not be disrobed in the royal court in public!

Nritta – Technical exposition of pure Kathak dance in Taal (rhythm cycle) Dhamar, and an expressional dance
Choreography and dance: Souvik Chakraborty
Vocals by Anirban Bhattacharyya

Nritta – Technical exposition of pure Kathak dance in Taal (rhythm cycle) Chautal
Choreography: Rita Mustaphi
Dancers: KDT Company

• Intermission : 20 Minutes •

Part 2 (Darbar-e-Mehfil): 40 Minutes

Anuranan – Resonance
Choreography and dance: Souvik Chakraborty 
Composition by Sri Agnibha Bandyopadhyay
Choreography & dance: Souvik Chakraborty

This number is a unique blend of traditional Kathak with a new flavor. Naad is Brambha, naad means sound, naad is everywhere and the next step is rhythm. The music with its western flavor blends with Kathak movements to create a new language without one being subjugated by each other. The rhythm creates a vibration inside our hearts and inspires us to dance. Here, the dancer’s body is a medium of reciprocating the music and finding a new unique language. 

Thumri – Lapak Jhapak Dekhi Shyam
Lyrics and composition: Pandit Birju Maharaj
Dancers: Mukta Sathe, Shilpi Chatterjee and Nivedita Sahni 
Vocals by Anirban Bhattacharyya

In the blink of an eye, Krishna appears blocking the path!
O friend, he is not letting me go, he is not listening to my plea!
This annoying urchin is mischievous
Look how he is teasing me by grasping & twisting my delicate wrist 
By embracing and kissing me, I feel so embarrassed
O Krishna, I beg you, please go away, I am not going to listen to you!

Mughal Darbar – The Royal Court
Composition: Pandit Birju Maharaj
Choreography by Rita Mustaphi and Souvik Chakraborty
Dancers: Souvik Chakraborty, Rita Mustaphi, Sarika Haris, Monica Singh-Shukla and Rupa Nair
Vocals: Pooja Goswami Pavan

A glimpse of entertainment in a royal court. With the coming of the Mughals, Kathak received a new impetus. it became highly stylized and came to be regarded as a sophisticated form of entertainment. Persian words like Aamad (a dancer’s stylized entrance into the royal court to commence a performance) and Salami (the stylized salutation to the king or emperor) often started the dance and continued with various graceful techniques of Kathak dance. 

Sher-O-Shayari & Sargam
Composition: Pandit Birju Maharaj
Choreography: Rita Mustaphi
Dancers: KDT Apprentices
Vocals: Pooja Goswami Pavan 

Sher-O-Shayari is poetry enactment. “Sher” is a couplet; each Sher consists of two lines. Shayari is poetry written in Urdu that usually has a profound meaning. Shayari or rhyming poetry is basically comprised of a couplet (Sher). This is how this form of poetry derives its name Sher-O-Shayari. In Kathak, it is the act of reciting poetry, enacting & expressing that poetry using real-life thoughts and feelings. 

Sargam refers to singing the notes, most commonly used in Indian classical music, instead of the words of a composition, with the use of various ornamentations as part of a Kathak performance.

Tarana in Raga Kalavati & Taal Tintaal
Choreography: Rita Mustaphi 
Dancers: KDT Company & Apprentices
Vocals: Pooja Goswami Pavan and Anirban Bhattacharyya

Tarana is a traditional Kathak piece that showcases graceful movements, intricate rhythmic footwork, and fast pirouettes.

Artistic Personnel

Concept, Choreography & Direction               
Rita Mustaphi


Tabla: Kousic Sen
Sitar: Chandrachur Bhattacharjee
Sarangi: Pankaj Mishra
Vocals: Pooja Goswami Pavan and Anirban Bhattacharyya
Vocalization of dance syllables: Souvik Chakraborty and Rita Mustaphi

Guest dancer/choreographer: Souvik Chakraborty

KDT Company
Shilpi Chatterjee
Sarika Haris
Rita Mustaphi
Rupa Nair
Nivedita Sahni
Mukta Sathe
Monica Singh-Shukla

KDT Apprentices
Rohini Chatwani
Mahek Maheshwari
Aaratrika Mondal
Karthika Nair
Ishani Nandan
Sreedevi Vengalil


Lighting Design
Mike Grogan

Set Design
Rita Mustaphi

Costume Design
Rita Mustaphi and Souvik Chakraborty

Stage Manager
Court Symons

Sound Engineer
Chris Frymire

ASL Interpreter (Sunday show)
Rosalinda Estrada-Alvarez

Kim Deprenger
David Morris
Sarbani Podder
Vibha Srivatsan
Mary Stephens
Ben Stephens

About Katha Dance Theatre
Katha Dance Theatre (KDT) creates, performs and educates through the art forms of dance, music, poetry and storytelling. Rooted in Kathak, the classical dance style of Northern India, KDT is dedicated to making dance accessible, inclusive and relevant. It enhances the local community by bridging diverse cultures and audiences to contribute to life’s infinite artistic expressions.

About Kathak Dance
Kathak (pronounced “Kah-tahk”) is an Indian classical dance tradition native to North India. Its origins can be traced back to as early as 400 BCE, when it began as a form of sharing stories, myths, and Hindu scripture in temples and royal courts. Characterized by both rhythmic and lyrical elements, it features graceful hand gestures, pirouettes, and complex footwork, performed with expressiveness and precision. Over the centuries, it has grown to incorporate diverse influences and viewpoints with KDT at the forefront of its artistic evolution.



Rita Mustaphi Headshot
Photo by Suchit Nanda
Photo by Suchit Nanda

Rita  Mustaphi (concept / choreography / direction / costumes / dance) founded KDT with the goal of making Kathak relevant and accessible across lines of generation, culture, and community. Over three decades, she has built a reputation as an innovative, risk-taking artist; introduced Kathak to a global audience and garnered countless awards for her choreography and leadership.

Ms. Mustaphi has choreographed more than fifty original dance works. Notably, she has performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall, at the prestigious Khajuraho Dance Festival in Madhya Pradesh, India, among other venues worldwide. Her collaborative choreographic credits include Karna – the Abandoned Hero (2013) and Shaamya – Of Equality with J.D. Steele; EKAM–The Supreme Oneness (2011) with Robert Robinson, and Sufiana – The Sufi Ecstasy (2016) with Pooja Goswami Pavan as well as The Hungry Stones (2018), and Ritu – the Seasons (2018). Ms. Mustaphi is a roster artist for COMPAS. She is also 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 2021, she received a Women’s Empowerment award from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

Kousic Sen (composer/tabla; London, England) is a London-based tabla player (Asian Indian drums) whose intense & energetic performances add a new dimension to the traditional concert experience. His rhythmic mastery has become known around the globe by his performances with leading musicians in many of the world’s most famous venues. Kousic was born in a musical family in Kolkata, India. His mother, Smt Tapati Sen, was a prominent North Indian classical vocalist & an A-grade artist of All India Radio. Kousic began playing internationally in 1988. He is the proud representative of the Banaras Gharana & is one of the foremost tabla players of his generation. Kousic has accompanied many notable musicians & dancers throughout India and is a regular participant in major music festivals around the world. He has toured extensively in the USA, Canada, Europe and South and East Asia. Kousic has also collaborated with musicians from other traditions, working with Western, Cuban, Indonesian, Persian & Spanish musicians.

Dr. Pooja Goswami Pavan (Minneapolis, MN) is a multifaceted performer, composer, teacher and scholar of Hindustani (North Indian classical) vocal music. Dr. Pavan has a versatile repertoire, evident in her ability to sing Khayal, Tarana, Thumri, Dadra, Ghazal, Bhajan, Sufiana Kalam and folk inspired forms from northern India such as Kajri and Chaiti. She received a PhD from the University of Delhi for her research on the body of work of Pandit Amarnath. A recipient of multiple National Scholarships in India, Dr. Pavan has performed and lectured extensively at prominent venues and academic institutions in India and the USA. She has taught several courses in Indian music and culture at the University of Minnesota and Macalester College since moving to Minnesota in 2006. She has three CDs to her credit featuring her original Sufi, Ghazal and Bhajan compositions. She is the recipient of the prestigious McKnight Fellowship for Musicians for 2016-17.

Chandrachur Bhattacharjee (Sitar; Kolkata, India) was initiated in the art of playing the sitar by the late sitar player Sri Debiprasad Ghosh, and was later accepted as a pupil by the eminent sitar maestro Sri Subrata Roy Choudhury. He is a highly talented and accomplished sitar artist and is a recognized artist of All India Radio and national television. Chandrachur has played in almost every major city in India and many other places abroad, including Japan, Italy, France, Germany, Norway, Finland, Canada, United Kingdom and USA as an accompanying artist with the great dancers like late Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra and Pandit Birju Maharaj. As a music composer, he has carved a niche for himself and has an excellent sense of rhythm and melody.

Pankaj Mishra (Sarangi; Toronto, Canada) is an “A Grade “ Sarangi player at the prestigious All India Radio & Television Kolkata – India. He is also “Sangeet Prabhakar” From Allahabad Sangeet Samiti – India. For an Indian classical musician, there is no greater blessing than to be born into a great lineage. Being the great grandson of Sarangi virtuoso late Pt. Saraju Prasad Mishra, Grandson of late Pt. Mahadeo Prasad Mishra and Son of Shri Satya Narayan Mishra, Pankaj was bestowed with that great opportunity. Thus, he was trained from an early age by the renowned Sarangi player of the famous Banaras Gharana, late Pt. Mahesh Prasad Mishra. Pankaj has received the mantle of his musical forebears with the greatest respect and humility whilst working diligently to earn the reputation of an accomplished representative of an impressive and unique musical family. He has performed at some of the most prestigious festivals in Europe, and many prestigious institutions have hosted his music, including the Ali Akbar College of Music (California, U.S.A. and Basel, Switzerland), Ragmala Organization (Toronto & Edmonton, Calgary – Canada), Indian Embassy concerts (Berlin and Austria), the Gandharva Music Festival (Netherlands), UCLA, UCSD, UTSA, Cal State University, Los Angeles and CalArts. In 2002, he established a school for Indian Classical Music in Germany where he visits to teach and performs regularly.

Pankaj is now settled in Toronto, Canada and regularly tours internationally. He is also a regular accompanist to music in Films, and Televisions in India (Bollywood & Hollywood). Pankaj has recorded albums with the famous vocalist Smt. Purnima Chowdhury, Pakhawaj player Sri Biplab Mondol and tabla players Pt. Anindo Chatterjee, Pt. Sankha Chatterjee and Ustad Sabir Khan & many more. His unique style of playing and interpretation is admired and sought after by a wide range of professionals from venerable Indian masters to luminary world musicians.

Anirban Bhattacharyya (vocals; Kolkata, India) is a Hindustani classical vocalist of the Patiyala tradition and a junior ethnomusicologist from Kolkata. A senior disciple of Padma Shri Ajoy Chakraborty, Anirban aims to break the boundaries between different performance traditions and create a unique space for him. A President of India Gold and Silver Medalist from All India Radio in Khyal and Thumri, and Champion in Thumri from State Music Academy in 2010, Anirban is also a National Scholar in Rabindra Sangeet and had the opportunity of learning from and performing with the legendary Kathak maestro Padma Vibhushan Birju Maharaj all over India and abroad. Anirban has been invited to perform in some of the most prestigious festivals in the UK, including Darbar Festival and Dartington Festival. Anirban has extensively toured the USA, UK, South Africa, Malaysia, and Bangladesh and had the privilege of performing at the Royal Albert Hall in London along with Shankar Mahadevan. Anirban’s academic research on music focuses on the Musicological works of Raja Sir Sourindro Mohun Tagore from Kolkata.

Shri Souvik Chakraborty (dancer; Kolkata, India) began learning Kathak Dance at a very tender age at Padatik Dance Centre under the supervision of Pt. Vijai Shankarji and Smt. Chetna Jalan. Later, he learned under Smt. Madhumita Roy and completed a 7th year Post-Graduation course at Padatik Dance Centre. For over twenty years, he also learned under the late doyen of Kathak, Pt. Birju Maharaj, in several workshops and special classes in Kolkata and Delhi. Souvik received a Bachelor’s degree in music (or “Sangeet Visharad”) from Pracheen Kala Kendra, a prestigious classical Indian arts school, in Chandigarh. He also received the title of “Nritya Nipuna” (or “expert in dance”) from Nalanda Dance Research Academy. Souvik later the earned prestigious title of Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra Yuva Pratibha Samman (a distinction in the world of classical Indian dance) in 2008, which was conferred by the late Odissi master Kelucharan Mohapatra’s organization Srijan. In 2015, he was awarded the prestigious Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Purashkar (an award given to outstanding Indian artists under the age of 40) by Sangeet Natak Akademi in New Delhi.



Shilpi Chatterjee studied Kathak in India for 10 years before moving to Minnesota to continue her studies with KDT. She has won awards at multiple district-level dance competitions and has performed with the Bengali Association of Minnesota. In 2021, she won the Jury Award at the Urvashi Dance, Music, Art and Culture Society’s international talent competition, “Sur Taal Hunaar ka Kamal” and performed in KDT’s production of Shaamya – Of Equality. This is her first season as a member of KDT’s Company.

Photo by Suchit Nanda

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 (2018), 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 and a Company member since 2002.

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 as well as Rita Mustaphi. Her performance credits with KDT include a leading role in KDT’s 2015 production of Pourush – the Masculine.

Photo by Bish Singh
Photo by Bish Singh

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 a decade and participated in workshops with the late Pandit Birju Maharaj and Ms. Saswati Sen. Her performance credits with KDT include Shaamya – Of Equality (2021), The Hungry Stones (2018), Pourush – The Masculine, (2015), Ritu – The Seasons, (2018), Sufiana – The Sufi Ecstasy (2016), The Rubaiyat – Life in a Day (2014), and Karna – The Abandoned Hero (2013). Nivedita has been a member of KDT’s Company since 2008.

Photo by Suchit Nanda

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 danced in countless KDT productions, including The Hungry Stones (2018), Ritu – The Seasons (2018), and Karna – The Abandoned Hero (2013). She has performed at Chicago’s International Kathak Festival and in 2017, she performed in Karna at the prestigious Khajuraho Dance Festival in Madhya Pradesh, India. In addition to studying Kathak with masters like Pandit Birju Maharaj, Ms. Saswati Sen, and Kumudini Lakhia, Mukta has served as a KDT instructor since 2007.

Monica Singh-Shukla 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 (2018), Sufiana – the Sufi Ecstasy (2016), The Rubaiyat – Life in a Day (2014), Karna – the Abandoned Hero (2013), and In Retrospect (2012). Monica has served as a KDT instructor since 2012.


Rohini Chatwani began learning Kathak at KDT in 2014 and has since studied with masters like the late Pandit Birju Maharaj, Ms. Saswati Sen and Durga Arya-Krüger. She first appeared onstage with KDT’s company in the 2022 production of Black Candle. This is her first season as a KDT apprentice.

Mahek Maheshwari began learning Kathak at KDT in 2014 and has since studied with masters like the late Pandit Birju Maharaj, and Ms. Saswati Sen. This is her first season as a KDT apprentice.

Aaratrika Mondal began learning Kathak at KDT in 2014 and has since studied with masters like Ms. Saswati Sen and Durga Arya-Krüger. In April of 2021, she won her age group in the Kathak solo performance category at the Bharathotsav International Virtual Dance Competition in Ottawa, Canada. Aaratrika recently appeared in KDT’s 2022 production of Black Candle. This is Aaratrika’s second season as a KDT apprentice.

Karthika Nair began studying Kathak at KDT in 2017 and has since learned under masters like Pandit Birju Maharaj, Saswati Sen, and Durga Arya-Krüger. This is her first season as a KDT apprentice.

Ishani Nandan began her Kathak training under Mukta Sathe over a decade ago, and has since studied under masters like Pandit Birju Maharaj and Ms. Saswati Sen. Ishani recently appeared in KDT’s 2022 production of Black Candle in a featured role. This is her second season as an apprentice with KDT.

Sreedevi Vengalil studied Bharatnatyam for over 10 years and has performed and won awards at various platforms and competitions in the Middle East and in India. Always having been fascinated by Kathak, she began studying it in 2017 with KDT after moving to Minnesota. Since then, she has attended workshops with the late Pandit Birju Maharaj and Rajendra Gangani. This is her third season as a KDT apprentice.


Mike Grogan (Lighting Designer) has been active in the Minneapolis arts scene since 1990. He has previously designed for numerous Twin Cities-based performance groups including Katha Dance Theatre, Theater Mu, Outward Spiral Theater Company, and Zenon Dance Company. He began his career as the lighting technician at Ruby’s Cabaret, later becoming Assistant Technical Director for The Minnesota Dance Alliance’s Studio 6-A and Production Director/Resident Lighting Designer for the space. Since 2001, Mike has served as Production Manager and Lighting Designer for Intermedia Arts, Ballet of the Dolls, The Ritz Theater in 2006 and James Sewell Ballet. In 2010, he founded his own company, Mike Grogan Lighting LLC.

Court Symons (Stage Manager) has their AFA in Theatre Production and Design from Normandale Community College. While their primary focus is stage management, Court can also be found in the tech booth bringing the magic of theatre to life. Court has worked in Stage Mgmt. with the Wicked Wenches Parody Troupe, local cabaret shows as well as traditional plays and musicals. Court can also be found working at a local theatre supply company to help you get your technical theatre needs or at the Ames Performing Arts Center in Burnsville as an event supervisor. Court is also excited to be returning to the Fringe Festival this year where they will be one of the front of house coordinators. When not doing theatre, Court is running their own tax return practice or at home reading, crafting or playing with their cats or dog.


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund, and thanks to a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. It is also supported in part by St. Paul Cultural STAR, the McKnight Foundation, the RBC Foundation, the Archie and Bertha Walker Foundation, and the generosity of KDT’s private donors.



$1,000 and above
Dr. Dash Foundation

$500 to $999
Jana & Erik Hagen • Rita & Kalyan Mustaphi • Rupa Nair • Tanwi Prigge • Raj Rajan • Shivani & Ajay Rawal • Binita Sinha • Anne von Bibra Wharton • Deacon Warner • Xcel Energy Foundation

Bob Beverage • Temple Blackwood • Ram Gada • Mahesh Girdhardas • Shilpa Manjure • Shanti Shah & Stefan Peterson

Anonymous donor • Paurvi Bhatt • Babu & Haritha Chimata • Aparna Ganguli • Alya Jawaid • the Khan family • Sarina Khariwala • Pratap Mysore • Anjana & Suresh Nair • John Palka • Mustafi Sanjoyan • Patrick Scully • Kuhu Singh • Monica Singh-Shukla • Rowzat Shipchandler • Mary & Ben Stephens

$99 and below
Anonymous donors • Anita Amolik • Indrani & Saumyadip Bagchi • Boston Scientific • Sanhita Chatterjee • Shilpi Chatterjee • Rohini Chatwani • Non Edwards • Jui Gadade • Sangeeta Gupta • Joya Jameel • Fatima & Asad Khan • Donald LaCourse • Kym Longhi & Jim Peitzman • Shilpa Manjure • Meenakshi Mattson • Robin Moede • Sarbani & Arijit Mondal • Mrinalini Mudkanna • Vaidehi Narkar • Pooja & Ryan Newcom • Nilakshi Pradhan • Ranna Raja • Pirya Richardson • Shatanik Saha • Nishkriya Sajja • Srishti Sarpamale • Mukta Sathe • Sreedevi Vengalil

Arijit Mondal • Aaratrika Mondal • Anjana Nair • Devi Patanayak • Ranga Ramamoorthy • Manish Sahni • Madhulika Srikanth • Vibha Srivatsan

Rita Mustaphi – Artistic Director
Kalyan Mustaphi – Executive Director
Nina Hagen – General Manager
Sreedevi Vengalil –  School Office Coordinator
Bob Beverage – Grant Writer

Kalyan Mustaphi – Executive Director
Rita Mustaphi – President
Monica Singh-Shukla – Secretary
Kuhu Singh – Member at Large
Aditi Stinbruchel – Member at Large

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