Infinitely Curious

Seeking a Renaissance in San Francisco

Farah Shaikh: CounterPULSE, 2nd Sundays

Farah Yasmeen Shaikh – Photo by Marty Sohl

CounterPULSE, located on 9th and Mission, is a theater that features performing, visual, and community arts from local Bay Area artists.  They’ve started a new venture in collaboration with the Dancer’s Group called “2nd Sundays,” where local artists can perform and interact with the audience members, opening up a dialogue about the art.  Farah Shaikh, one of the company members of the Chitresh Das Dance Company (CDDC), performed a Kathak (North Indian Classical Dance) solo at the May 9th edition of “2nd Sundays.”

As a part of the Chhandam School of Kathak (which is affiliated with CDDC), I’ve been able to interact with Farah di as a performer and a teacher.  From the few performances I’ve seen, she is a beautiful performer.  Her presentation, “Segments of the Solo,” showcased two pieces: Rangmanch – Coloring of the Stage and Innovation of the Guru – Kathak Yoga.


Rangmanch means to color the stage. Here the dancer enacts a puja (worship) through mudra (hand gesture) and movement: she sanctifies the stage with water, flame, incense and the ringing of a bell, she offers flowers and a mala (flower garland) to the deity, blows on the conch shell and places sandal wood paste on the diety’s third eye. She then invokes the three deities, Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Maheshwara (the destroyer of illusion). Finally the dancer begins to perform nritta, pure dance.

Kathak Yoga

Kathak Yoga is a technique created by Pandit Chitresh Das.  It requires the dancer to  simultaneously recite the taal (rhythmic cycle), sing a melody, perform complex footwork and chakkars (spins), and play an instrument (marking the melody or the rhythm).  The aim is to unify the various aspects of Kathak, so that the dancer is constantly aware of the precise relationship of whatever composition is being danced (whether a song or a dance composition) to the rhythm cycle.


2 comments on “Farah Shaikh: CounterPULSE, 2nd Sundays

  1. Priya
    May 26, 2010

    Shruti! Great post and I love the video. Does Farah have her own school/is she teaching? It’s great to see such a talented classical dancer who has grown up in the states- it really dispels an Indian notion that you can only produce authentic dancing/talent within the country. Also, loved the paintings in the previous post. Love, Pri

    • shruti914
      May 26, 2010

      Farah di is one of the instructors at the Chhandam School (lead by Chitresh Das) and she leads the Mountain View branch! Here’s the link to the Chhandam classes if you ever want to sit in on a class: I go to the Berkeley branch if you wanna visit 🙂

      But yea, you’ll really see how amazing all these students are in the classes/shows. Actually it’s pretty ironic that Kathak is more prevalent and more accepted here than it is in India! There’s still a lot of stigma against it in India..but Chitresh Das’ school is trying to dispel that and expose a different side of the artform to the people there.

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This entry was posted on May 26, 2010 by in Chitresh Das Dance Company, CounterPULSE, Dance, Kathak, San Francisco.

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