featuring Rina Mehta, Rachna Nivas, Michelle Dorrance & Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards
“…an evening of rhythmic magic.”
– Los Angeles Dance Chronicle
Indian Kathak dance and American tap dance, continents and ages apart, share parallel stories of struggle and perseverance. They come together in this sensational collaboration that is rhythm, poetry, storytelling, music and dance. SPEAK carries forward the legacy of iconic artists like Pandit Chitresh Das, Dr. Jimmy Slyde and James Buster Brown, while bringing to the forefront the voices of powerful female artists. Serving as the bridge between tradition and innovation, history and progress, Rina Mehta, Rachna Nivas, Michelle Dorrance, and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards create nothing short of magic on the stage.
Artistic Direction: Seibi Lee, Rachna Nivas, Rina Mehta
“With its technical brilliance, emotional power, and reverent yet creative reinterpretation of sacred epic,‘Son of the Wind,’…was world-class transnational dance theater that celebrated Indian performance traditions even as
it innovated within them and challenged cultural stereotypes.”
— Dr. Philip Lutgendorf, author of Hanuman’s Tale: The Messages of a Divine Monkey
This tour-de-force kathak dance drama brings to life the hidden hero at the heart of the great Indian epic, Ramayana. Hanuman, son of the celestial female spirit, Anjana and Vayu, the mighty wind god, proves to be an integral force behind the rescuing of the kidnapped princess Sita, through his mischievous ingenuity and indomitable vigor. It is Hanuman’s actions that leads to the victory of Ram, King of Ayodha, over the arrogant and powerful King of Lanka, Ravan. Told through dramatic storytelling, powerful movement, and exquisite costume design and lighting, this production exposes the contemporary relevance of a timeless story while capturing the hearts of all.
Artistic Direction: Rina Mehta, Rachna Nivas, Seibi Lee
“An incredible display of dance and music. California Gharana elegantly shepherds the past into the future as it pays homage to legendary kathak artist, Chitresh Das and his legacy, while giving voice to a new generation of women artists”
— Audience Member
California Gharana celebrates the living legacy of kathak legend, Pandit Chitresh Das, offering three compelling pieces that embody his style, aesthetic and vision for the art form. Percussive feet, dynamic movement and rich music weave seamlessly together to tell of story of India – her history, struggles, spiritual discoveries, and evolution. The performing artists of California Gharana come together from around the world to create not only a compelling work of performance art but a living connection between generations and continents.
Performed by Rina Mehta
“The solo is a treat for those art lovers and connoisseurs looking for an immersive experience with India’s ancient and timeless art form of kathak.”
— Audience Member
The traditional kathak solo is a tour-de-force performance of dance, music, poetry and storytelling. Unproduced, highly interactive and in large part improvised, the traditional solo is kathak dance in its most raw and unadulterated form. The solo, as the name implies, features a single kathak artist in performance along with an ensemble of hindustani classical musicians (usually including tabla, strings and vocals) for anywhere between 90 to 120 minutes. As kathak evolves into the 21st century, the traditional solo is increasingly being replaced by group productions that are choreographed, and supported by recorded music and high-production value lighting and staging. The Leela Dance Collective works to preserve the core of the kathak tradition while evolving it to make it relevant and accessible to contemporary audiences. As such, it works to create and tour large scale works from SPEAK to Son of the Wind, while investing in presentation of the traditional solo by established and emerging kathak artists in strategic venues around the globe.
Concept & Choreography: Rina Mehta
This continues to be a controversial piece with mixed reviews from art critics. To me, Chaos of Humanity represents an incredibly powerful theme that permeates our daily lives. With the use of color and abstract expression, I manage to evoke both the positive and negative energy of humankind, its selfishness, but also its incredible resilience.