Traditional Kathak blossoms at The Spring Festival, Cranford, NJ    
- Prof. Doshi, Union County College, NJ   

April 23, 2006 

In April 2006, the Union County College, New Jersey presented a dance showcase featuring the internationally renowned Pt Satya Narayana Charka, Director of the East-West School of Dance, as well as his senior students Shanta Paige, Ruee Gawarikar, and Anisha Muni.  

The presentation opened with an Invocation, which praised the Absolute in the form of Shiva, Lord of Dance. This was followed by a Tumri, "Avat Shyam," which is a more expressive piece incorporating the major story-telling aspect of Kathak dance in the form of abhinaya. This dance performed by Ruee Gawarikar, recounted a tale of Krishna and Radha's devotion to him. Next, Shanta Paige displayed the Muslim influence on Kathak dance through the "Darbari Tarana." Kathak is the only classical dance of India which has been greatly influenced by Hinduism and Islam alike. Darbari Tarana was a taste of the pure dance aspect (nritta) of Kathak.  

Pt. Charka and dancers
Anisha Muni
Following this, Anisha Muni performed "Payal Baaje," also a Tarana, however markedly different from the previous piece due to the unique singing style incorporated within it. After this was "Nritya Parampara Tore Tukre." In this piece, Ruee demonstrated the dynamic rhythms of pure dance in the Kathak dance technique. Returning to the story-telling aspect of Kathak, the next piece, performed by Shanta, was "Nishita He," an expressive dance emphasizing Shiva as the source of cosmic harmony and rhythm. 

Finally, Pt. Satya Narayana Charka and Anisha Muni performed "Kalavati Tarana," a joyful composition set in Raag Kalavati. This piece emphasized the powerful technique coupled with delicate movements associated with Kathak. This Tarana featured a wondrous display of graceful pirouettes and strong footwork, complemented by rhythmic patterns interspersed throughout the piece. The program concluded with a "Jugalbandi," a dynamic improvisational item in which Pt. Charka performed many small impromptu patterns after which his students demonstrated the same, closing with all four dancers coming together in unison. 

The entire program displayed the complexity as well as the universality of Kathak dance in a joyful mood of the spring season. Its two major aspects, expression (abhinaya) and pure dance/technique (nritta) were represented magnificently. The students' colorful, traditional costumes added to their performance and also gave the audience a flavor of this ancient dance form. Overall, the program was very well received.