Seeking a Renaissance in San Francisco
CounterPULSE, as I’ve mentioned before, is a performing arts house in SOMA, San Francisco. Every year they have a Performing Diaspora Festival, in which they select artists to undergo a residency and present a piece that uses “a traditional form [of art] as a basis for experimentation and innovation.” Charlotte Moraga, prinipal dancer of the Chitresh Das Dance Company, was chosen as one of the Fall 2009 Performing Diaspora Residents. She performed a collaborative piece, intertwining three artistic traditions: Kathak (North Indian Classical Dance) and Hindustani (North Indian Classical) & Carnatic (South Indian Classical) Music. It was really interesting for me to watch the show, because I’ve been trained in Carnatic Music and am just starting to learn Kathak. To see the different traditions merge together is pretty interesting. Each tradition is complex on so many levels and is very different from the other. Still, there is some common ground that lets the artists speak to each other via melody and rhythm. I can personally attest to this connection too, because having that background in Carnatic Music has helped me a lot in my own study of Kathak.
Anyhow, Charlotte di did an interview with CounterPULSE, in which she talks a bit about her piece, but more interestingly, about how she got into Kathak by chance and how she has taken it on as a way of life. You can also read Charlotte di’s thoughts during the course of her residency with CounterPULSE here.
Here is a clip of the “work in progress” Performing Diaspora piece she presented on August 29, 2009. Charlotte di is an excellent dancer – her crisp execution of the different rhythmic patterns is flawless. In this clip, she performs along withBen Kunin on the Sarode, Prasant Radhakrishnan on the Saxaphone, and Salal Nader on Tabla (in the final performance of the piece, she was also joined by Jim Santi Owen on the Kanjira).