Sita Haran (The Abduction of Sita). Created by Pandit Chitresh Das and the Chitresh Das Dance Company. Presented by Chhandika (Chhandam Institute of Kathak Dance). At the Carling-Sorenson Theater, Babson College, Wellesley, MA, May 11.
By Aneesha Joshi.
“With an all female cast playing both male and female characters, the story (through dance and drama) delves into the challenges of morality, betrayal, love and sorrow.” — Chhandika (Chhandam Institute of Kathak Dance).
Chhandika, which is presenting Sita Haran at Babson College, is a Boston-area non-profit dedicated to keeping the ancient tradition of Kathak dance relevant to contemporary audiences. The Chitresh Das Dance Company’s production of Sita Haran revolves around a pivotal chapter in the Ramayana, an Indian epic. The dance piece focuses on the demon king Ravana’s abduction of Sita from her husband Ram and brother-in-law Lakshman. Ram and Lakshman traverse the elements to reach Lanka, the kingdom of Ravana, to rescue the woman. The storyline is made up of the challenges posed by good and evil to Ram and Lakshman along the way.
Unlike most Western schools of dance, Kathak is derived from an ancient storytelling tradition. (The root of Kathak, katha, means story.) Kathak narratives generally center on tales of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, their triumphs and defeats. Performers trained in this dance discipline work on mastering a variety of forms of physical action, including mime and facial movements.
This performance of Sita Haran will be accompanied by a score that was composed by its choreographer, Pandit Chitresh Das. Das is a world-renowned Kathak dancer who hails from India and is trained in the Lucknow school of the dance form. He has received numerous awards, fellowships, and grants in recognition of his contribution to perpetuating the performance of Kathak. He established the first university accredited Kathak dance course in the United States at San Francisco State University.