Storytellers School of Dance Presents “Reflections” Kathak Performances

Storytellers School of Dance (SSD) brought its fifth season to end with an exciting, colorful, and energizing display of Kathak performances on April 24, 2022, at the Stafford Civic Center in Stafford, Texas.  The nearly 500 people that attended “Reflections” were treated to resonating ghunghroos, lightning speed chakkars, and the melody of live Tabla.  In attendance as Chief Guests were the renowned Tabla Maestro Pt. Shantilal Shah and his wife, accomplished vocalist Aparna Shah.  The two-hour program was a nonstop collection of different items showcasing the Benaras Gharana of Kathak.  Ekta Popat, founder and artistic director of SSD, is a disciple of Guru Shambhavi Dandekar.  Ekta and 140 “storytellers” (as she likes to call them) put on a flawless display of their undiluted artwork.  Their vibrant costumes, coordinated multicolored lighting effects, meticulous movements and graceful stage presence brought a jaw dropping experience to those in attendance.  Master of Ceremonies Gangadhar Hiremath kept the audience engaged and provided educational insight about each of the items.  Live Tabla was provided by Nishad Kanhare accompanied by Ekta’s Padhant (recitation).

Among the items performed was a traditional Taal presentation that consisted of Thaat, Aamad, Parans, Chakradaars, and Tihaais.  In items like the Sargam and the Taraana, the senior students demonstrated intricate footwork, beautiful hand movements, and fast chakkars in synchrony.  The crowd favorite was a lighthearted, mischievous adventure of Krishna with his Gopis performed by the youngest students of SSD.  Ekta mesmerized the audience with her Thumri, which portrayed one of the many pranks Lord Krishna plays on Radha and highlighted the depth of their beautiful relationship. Ekta switches between the characters of Krishna and Radha so effortlessly.  Her facial expressions and gestures, also known as haav-bhaav and adaa, left a striking impression on the audience.

Storytellers School of Dance offers authentic Kathak education in the Houston area and administers examinations in Kathak on behalf of Bharati Vidyapeeth University.  There are 150 students in training (ranging in age from 3 ½ to 76!!) and Ekta firmly believes that with the right attitude and effort, anyone can learn to dance.