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June 1, 2010 > Kathak to benefit impoverished schools

Kathak to benefit impoverished schools

Submitted By Michelle Motoyoshi

Have you ever seen dance that evolved from storytelling? Now you can at Kathakanjali, a performance of Kathak dance sponsored by Tarana Dance Academy in celebration of their fifth year of teaching Kathak dance to the Tri-City community.

Kathakanjali, a benefit for One School at a Time (, will be held Sunday, June 6, featuring Tarana's own students performing Kathak, a northern Indian dance form. Kathak arose in ancient times among storytellers called Kathakas. The Kathakas would use elements of dance as well as dramatic hand and facial gestures to bring the myths and epics they told to life. Eventually, their movements became stylized and Kathak was born.

In keeping with its storytelling roots, Kathak has two aspects: Nritya (expressive dance) and Nritta (pure dance). Nritya refers to the part of the dance (facial expressions, hand gestures, and symbolic postures) that tells a story and expresses the inner meaning of a song, while Nritta refers to the rhythm and movement of the dance. Over the years three styles of Kathak, Jaipur, Lucknow and Benaras, have developed. At Kathakanjali the Lucknow Gharana style will be performed.

Pragya Dagupta, founder and director of Tarana Dance Academy, has been teaching Kathak to Tri-City children and adults for nearly six years. A native of India, Pragya became interested in Kathak and Indian dance at the precocious age of three. As an adult she trained with noted instructors like Kathak Legend Nritya Shiromoni, Nrityabilash Sunchandra Benerjee, Guru Bandana Sen, and Sri Sukhdev Mukherjee, and has earned a Sangit Praveen masters in Kathak. She currently works as a Kathak performer, choreographer, director, and judge in many dance shows. Now she uses her knowledge of Kathak and Indian folk dance to promote awareness and understanding of Indian culture.

Kathakanjali is a big part of this cultural mission for Pragya. Through it she hopes to reach a broad and diverse audience and increase interest in this unique dance form. She also wants to give her students the chance to showcase their talents.

Tickets for the event can be purchased for $10 at the door. All of the proceeds will be donated to One School at a Time. OSSAT is an organization that raises funds to provide needed supplies and renovations to individual schools in poverty-stricken areas around the world. For more information, please visit

Kathakanjali - a performance of Kathak Indian dance
Sunday, June 6
5 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant High School Auditorium
1750 S. White Road, San Jose

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