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Cross-cultural Comparison of Dance: Sita Haran

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The Ramayana comes to life through the second in a three-part series of cross-cultural dance workshops. Kathak comes from the word katha, meaning to tell stories. Charlotte Moraga of Chitresh Das Dance Co. will perform an excerpt from the Ramayana— Pandit Chitresh Das’ Sita Haran, the Abduction of Sita — in a traditional Kathak solo.  Rama, Lakshmana and Sita are in the Panchavati forest when the demon Maricha, disguised as a golden deer, tempts Sita and distracts Rama so that Ravana can steal her away, setting in motion fateful events. On the surface it appears to be a fairytale of good and evil, but the ambiguity beneath has many layers.  In a Kathak solo, the dancer portrays all the characters in a story using abhinaya (facial expression), hastaks (hand movements) and dance.  Afterward, families can learn some of this fascinating Kathak vocabulary in a workshop with members of the Chhandam Youth Dance Company (CYDC).

Charlotte Moraga is a critically acclaimed Kathak dancer and educator.  For 25 years, she has performed with the Chitresh Das Dance Company as principal dancer in Pandit Das’ celebrated works: Sita Haran, East as Center, India Jazz Progressions, Pancha Jati, Darbar, Sampurnam, Yatra and Shiva.  A choreographer in her own right, she has created work for CYDC and in her collaborations: Conference of Birds, with composer and saxophonist Prasant Radhakrishnan, and Sangam, with tap dancer Chloe Arnold. She is currently the director of CYDC and co-artistic director of Chitresh Das Dance Company & Chhandam School of Kathak.