CYDC at SF Symphony’s Deck The Hall

Posted on January 13, 2014 by


Chhandam Youth Dance Company (CYDC) performed at San Francisco Symphony Hall for their ‘Deck the Hall’ program on Dec. 8 & 9, 2013.  They were featured alongside the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet School and San Francisco Boy’s Choir – reaching 6,000 audience members, with musicians Ben Kunin on Sarod, Samrat Kaakkeri on Tabla, Charlotte Moraga on recitation and Antara Bhardwaj on vocals.  Junior CYDC member, Isha Chitre shares her experiences from the performances.

By Isha Chitre, Junior CYDC Member

Chhandam Youth Dance Company (CYDC) performed at San Francisco Symphony Hall alongside the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet School, and San Francisco Boys Chorus on December 8 and 9 reaching 6,000 audience members. Young dancers, ages 8-16, were privileged to be accompanied by acclaimed Bay Area artists Ben Kunin, sarod, Samrat Kaakkeri, tabla, Charlotte Moraga, recitation, and Antara Bhardwaj, vocals.

Ten of my Junior and Senior CYDC peers and I performed amongst many other classical artists, enveloped by 6,000 audience members.  It was a very emotional for me and historic moment for kathak a North Indian classical dance form.  Kathak’s beauty and grandeur was showcased and applauded on the same platform as other professional performing arts, including the San Francisco Ballet School and San Francisco Symphony.

CYDC, an elite youth performance group, trained by none other than kathak maestro Pandit Chitresh Das, performed a fast paced piece called the Tarana – typified by fast, intense footwork and fast chakkars (pirouettes), set to a rhythmic 16 beat cycle.  Every move is beautifully choreographed by Pandit ji and exemplifies the four elements of kathak – tayaari, laykari, khoobsurti and nazakat.  Each movement requires precise execution of controlled movement through extensions, and subtleties; all this wrapped in the artistic evolution and climax of chakkars.   The extreme focus through it all is a required and learned technique.

Led by Panditji, my peers and I spend hours each week in deep reyaz; our mantra is reyaz mehenat ke sath (deep practice). Despite our fatigue, the smiles on our faces speak of the joy we experience- a joy which further fuels our Pandit ji’s passion to seek for nothing but the best in us.  His belief in all of us is, like him, we will devote a part of our life to shiksha, praschar, aur suraksha karna –  (to educate, promote and preserve the classical art form). Each week we work tirelessly with Pandit ji to tune our body, mind, and spirit through Kathak Yoga.  This practice teaches us to seek balance and harmony in our daily lives and to live life with purpose in whatever I do. I am proud to say that this is what CYDC brought to San Francisco Symphony Hall.