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Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Chitresh Das

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An acclaimed and prolific artist, Pandit Chitresh Das (1944-2015) is a widely acknowledged master of Kathak dance. This is the classic storytelling dance of south India, which contains powerful rhythmic elements, along with grace, mime and drama. Chitresh is also a choreographer, composer and educator.

Born in Calcutta, Chitresh’s powerful mother guided him to Kathak dance at age nine. He studied with a great master with whom he quickly advanced. Soon recognized as a prodigy, he was invited at age eleven to perform for the world renowned Uday Shankar.

After earning his M.A. in India, he came to the United States on a Whitney Fellowship to teach Kathak dance. In 1970 he was invited by Ustad Ali Akbar Kahn to establish a school of dance at the Ali Akbar College of Music in Marin County, California. In succeeding years, Chitresh and his students from his Chhandam: Chitresh Das Dance Company performed to capacity audiences throughout the world. Chitresh returns to India regularly to teach and also has taught at San Francisco State University, Stanford University and other schools. He is the recipient of numerous awards. Along with dance, he practices and teaches the discipline of taag aur seva—selfless service and sacrifice.

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