On Saturday, September 21, Anishka Yerabothu '20 presented "A Kathak Showcase" in the Putnam Family Arts Center. The event was a fundraiser for Educate Lanka, a program providing support to Sri Lankan students, where Anishka volunteered this past summer.
Kathak is a North Indian classical dance form, with roots tracing back to the third century. Captivated by Kathak's graceful hand gestures, dramatic spins, and vibrant costumes, Anishka sought initial instruction from Isha Phadke, a visiting artist from India. In 2014, she began studying with Umi Samadar, a performer, choreographer, and instructor of classical Indian dance forms, specializing in Kathak. In addition to her career with dance, Umi Samadar is Director of Action (Experiential) Learning at MIT's Sloan School of Management. In 2018, the Massachusetts Cultural Council awarded a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Award to Anishka to continue her work with Samadar.
The Kathak dance recital featured Anishka performing to three pieces: Ganesh Vandana (an invocation to Lord Ganesha, the provider of wisdom and remover of obstacles, composed by Praveen D. Rao), Teental (featuring the core forms of a Kathak repertoire, composed and choreographed by Umar Samadar), and Makhan Chori (a Gath Nikaas, telling the story of little Lord Krishna from the Puranas). Guest performers Suhail Yusuf Khan and Rajesh Pai performed instrumental solos.
While in Sri Lanka, Anishka designed and conducted a skills development workshop drawing on her background in Carnatic music and Kathak. She created a workshop that introduced Indian classical music and dance to 15- and 16-year-old girls as a means of appreciating diversity, building confidence, and enhancing self-expression.
After the performance, Educate Lanka founder Manjula Dissanayake presented about his recent efforts. The presentation was followed by a reception featuring authentic Indian food.
Read Anishka Yerabothu's essay on her Educate Lanka experience from the latest edition of LEO, the St. Mark's online academic journal.