chitresh das

World-renowned Kathak practitioner Pandit Chitresh Das’ final work, “Shiva,” will be presented Feb. 27 and Feb. 28 in Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. The event is free and open to the public. (photo provided)

Chitresh Das Dance Company & Chhandam School of Kathak, the internationally renowned nonprofit arts organization, will be showcasing the final full-length work of its visionary founder and world-renowned Kathak practitioner Pandit Chitresh Das in “Shiva,” which will be staged at Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus Feb.27 and Feb. 28.

Cal Performances is the presenter of “Shiva,” which explores the balance between destruction and creation in the Indian American Kathak dancer’s signature style, which combines traditional Kathak choreography—virtuosic percussive footwork, expressive facial expressions and hand gestures—with a modern dramatic sensibility.

Anchored by a memorial video, a special pre-performance chant of a poetic verse by hundreds of Das’ students from his Chhandam School, and an opening piece performed by the Chhandam Youth Dance Company, “Shiva” is a hypnotic and powerful paean to the Hindu deity of destruction and rebirth, according to a press release. The work was mostly complete prior to Das’ passing, and the remaining choreography was completed by one of Das’ senior disciples and co-artistic director Charlotte Moraga, using the outlines that Das had created.

Rescheduled from March 2015 in wake of the unexpected passing away of Das, this final work has been specifically reimagined for Zellerbach Hall, and features an all-women cast of dancers and live musical accompaniment composed by Das and directed Jayanta Banerjee.

Residency activities celebrating the artistry and influence of Das are planned on the UC Berkeley campus and in the community, including a K-12 teacher’s workshop focusing on the themes from “Shiva” Jan. 30 at Longfellow Middle School in Berkeley, and a school time performance by the company for K-12 schoolchildren Feb.26 in Zellerbach Hall.

A screening of Hoku Uchiyama’s 2013 film, “Upaj: Improvise,” a behind-the-scenes look at India Jazz Suites, a dance collaboration featuring Das and tap star Jason Samuels Smith, will be held Feb. 19 in Wheeler Hall, followed by a talk with Uchiyama, Smith, Celine Schein Das (producer of India Jazz Suites and executive director of Chitresh Das Dance Company) and Antara Bhardwaj (producer of “Upaj: Improvise”). This event is free and open to the public. Members of the company will also participate in a community dance class Feb. 20 in Bancroft Studio, including technique and choreographic phrases from Shiva. The class is for all ages and abilities; pre-registration is required.

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