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Farah Shaikh

Chitresh Das Dance Company

The Chitresh Das Dance Company is comprised of dancers whose abilities exemplify Kathak Master Chitresh Das' emphasis on the technical, graceful and dramatic aspects of Kathak dance. CDDC is an inspiring example of the vision of Chitresh Das to create access to the captivating and dynamic Kathak tradition to audiences throughout the world.

Farah Yasmeen Shaikh has been part of CDDC for over six years, with her presentation always precise and intuitive. She has toured with CDDC in India, performing last year in Chitresh Das' collaboration with renowned Paris-based, contemporary painter Shahabuddin. Additionally, she tours with CDDC throughout the United States. Farah strives to educate her own community about Kathak as a teacher at the Chhandam School of Kathak dance, as well as a participant in CDDC's arts education programs and performances.Kathak dance being one, if not the only, of the Indian classical dances to be influenced by both Hindu and Islamic cultures, and considering the nature of this evening's event, Farah will be performing two pieces to demonstrate this unique union of influences in the dance. Both pieces have been choreographed by Pandit Chitresh Das.


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.

Thaat originates from the Lucknow school of Kathak dance. This school is often known as the Muslim school of Kathak dance because of the heavy Moghul influence. The costumes worn by the dancers are typical Muslim designs.
Thaat is the highly stylized tuning of the body and mind in exploration of the chosen tal (rhythmic cycle of definite beats). In a graceful stance, movements of the neck, head, eyebrows and wrists display the more subtle dance techniques of Kathak. The aesthetic aspect of Thaat is the marking or interrupting of this flow with a flurry of movement- fast footwork or turns, which often ends in a crisp, stand-still pose. Though the Islamic influence is more evident in the emphasis on rhythmic and technical intricacies than in dance movement, salaam, the traditional Muslim greeting, is seen in different sections of the dance.

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