Katha Dance Theatre is proud to present Prakritir Pratisodh – Nature’s Revenge!
All matter is composed of five basic elements – The Panchamahabhutas: water, earth, air, fire and space. These elements embody the physical and energetic attributes of both the human body and the physical world, exerting a profound influence on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. When these elements exist in harmonious balance, we experience inner peace and robust health. Conversely, when they fall out of equilibrium, suffering and discontentment may ensue.
Currently, we are living in an age filled with environmental challenges and relentless climatic destruction. The world is undergoing rapid transformations, evoking feelings of unease and apprehension within us all. Prakritir Pratisodh attempts to increase awareness and comprehension of the laws of nature while demonstrating the impact of human activities causing disruption of the equilibrium. It presents a series of dance vignettes depicting the natural forces that were once in harmony and are now threatened by human induced environmental alterations. Yet, it also conveys a message of hope, emphasizing that the responsibility to shape our collective destiny and that of future generations still rests with each of us. For it is still up to us, every one of us, to determine our collective fate and that of generations to come. Let us move forward in harmony! We borrow the environment from our children; let’s ensure we preserve it better for them!
Shrishti – Song of Creation from Rigveda
Music by Sharat Srivastav
Dancers: KDT Company as Elements of nature
Prakriti – Nature – Happy & Harmonious
Music by Sharat Srivastav
Dancer: Rita Mustaphi as Mother Earth
Manav aur Prakriti – Humans in equilibrium with nature
Music by Pandit Birju Maharaj
Dancers: KDT Apprentices as the humans
Pradushan & Pratisodh – Pollution and revolt
Vocalizations & Dance by KDT Company & Apprentices
Peoples’ actions disrupting the natural forces
Durjog – Disaster
Music composition by Rajeeb Chakraborty
Dancers: KDT Company & Apprentices
Natural forces retaliating and people suffering
Roksha – Save and protect
Music by Sharat Srivastav
Dancers: Rita Mustaphi as Mother Earth, urging a call of action
KDT Company & Apprentices
Concept, choreography, direction: Rita Mustaphi
Rita Mustaphi – Mother Earth
KDT Company – The Elements in nature
Shilpi Chatterjee – Earth
Sarika Haris – Air
Rupa Nair – Fire
Nivedita Sahni – Water
Monica Singh-Shukla – Space
KDT Apprentices – People on Earth
Light & Sound
Slides for Projection
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 (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) 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), 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. She is a recipient of the McKnight Fellowship Award for choreography in 2023.
Shilpi Chatterjee pursued her Kathak dance education in India for a decade before relocating to Minnesota where she is continuing her training under the guidance of Guru Rita Mustaphi at KDT. She received awards at many district-level dance competitions in India and has showcased her talents with the Bengali Association of Minnesota. In 2021, she received the Jury Award at the Urvashi Dance, Music, Art, and Culture Society’s international talent competition. Her performance credits with KDT include Shaamya – Of Equality (2021), Black Candle (2022), and Kathak E-motion (2023). She has participated in workshops led by the esteemed late Pandit Birju Maharaj and Ms. Saswati Sen.
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 under Guru Rita Mustaphi in 1999. Her selected performance credits with KDT as a company member include Kathak E-motion (2023), Shaamya – Of Equality (2021), 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 Bharatha Natya Kala Mandir, 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 of KDT in 2012, and has since studied Kathak under her guru Ms. Rita Mustaphi and masters Pandit Birju Maharaj and Ms. Saswati Sen. Her performance credits with KDT include Kathak E-motion (2023), Ritu (2018), Sufiana (2016), Rubaiyat (2014) and a leading role in KDT’s 2015 production of Pourush – the Masculine. Rupa has also been an instructor with KDT from 2017-2018.
Nivedita Sahni first studied Kathak at the Jaipur school of Kathak dance and the Kathak Kendra School in New Delhi.India. 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), a leading role in 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 and is a Kathak instructor at KDT school.
Monica Singh-Shukla began her Kathak training under the guidance of Guru 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 Kathak E-motion (2023), Shaamya – Of Equality (2021), 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 second season as a KDT apprentice.
Aaratrika Mondal began learning Kathak at KDT in 2014 and has since studied with masters like Pandit Birju Maharaj, 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.
Ajay Patel began learning Kathak at KDT in 2020 and has since studied with masters like Durga Arya-Krüger. Prior to starting with KDT, he studied Bharatanatyam for over 5 years with Ragamala Dance Company. This is his first onstage appearance as a KDT apprentice.
Vibashreya Srivatsan began her Kathak journey at KDT in 2018 and has since studied with masters such as Saswati Sen and Durga Arya-Krüger. She has also studied bharatanatyam for over 15 years in Chennai, India. This is her first appearance 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.
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. This project is also supported by the RBC Foundation and a 2023 McKnight Choreographer’s Fellowship Award received by Rita Mustaphi. KDT would like to thank the Cowles Center for presenting this work.
Photos by Bill Cameron (1-61) and Anjana Nair (63-79)