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Young Indian phenoms enliven event

What can be as charming as tap, as powerful as Flamenco and have all the furor of Riverdance? Kathak dance -- one of India's six major classical dance forms -- is a combination of traditional story-telling in mime with abstract dance featuring elaborate footwork and lightning-fast turns.

Chitresh Das, regarded as one of the greatest living Kathak dance masters, will perform at the opening concert for the third season of MITHAS (MIT Heritage of the Arts of South Asia) on Friday, Sept. 26 at 8pm in Kresge Auditorium. Mr. Das's intricate footwork combines both the sensual and dynamic elements of North Indian dance traditions.

Mr. Das, artist-in-residence with the music and theater arts section from September 22-26, will also present a free public lecture/demonstration on Monday, Sept. 22 from 7-8pm in Killian Hall.

Originally from Calcutta, Mr. Das has taught and performed in the United States since 1972 and currently lives in California, where he set up his own Chhandam school and dance company after teaching several years at the Ali Akbar College of Music north of San Francisco. This will be his second Boston appearance.


"We present artists of quality whether or not they have big names," said Senior Lecturer George Ruckert, founder of MITHAS, noting that the series will "take chances on lesser-known talent in the interests of artistic quality, idealism and thoroughness."

Performing with Mr. Das will be the innovative young player Tarun Bhattacharya, who has redesigned the santur (a hammered dulcimer from North India) with bendable strings to create the characteristic slides of Indian classical music.

Also appearing is Vikram Ghosh, a versatile and dynamic tabla player in his late 20s who has taken India by storm. Mr. Ghosh will present a free lecture/demonstraion on tabla and Indian rhythms on Thursday, Sept. 25 at 7pm in the new Endicott World Music Center (Rm N52-199).

Mr. Ruckert notes that the opening concert features the "most youthfully appealing artists in MIT's grandest venue [Kresge Auditorium]."

Joining the 'youngsters' in concert is Ramesh Misra, sarangi, one of the most decorated of India's senior violinists. "Mr. Misra is a rare old wine from South India," said Mr. Ruckert. "We're especially fired up to see him."

Tickets for the concert -- priced at $15, or $12 for MITHAS members and non-MIT students and $10 for MIT students -- are only available at the door. For more information, call x8-7971.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 17, 1997.

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