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Kathak and tap dance blend on stage

Amutha Kannan
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Pandit Chitresh Das and Jason Samuels Smith enthral audience

ART SANS BORDERs:Kathak maestro Chitresh Das and Emmy-award winning tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith perform in ‘Fastest Feet in Rhythm' organised by U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, in association with Dr. G.R. Damodaran college of Science, and Kirtilals, in the city on Tuesday.- Photo: K. Ananthan
ART SANS BORDERs:Kathak maestro Chitresh Das and Emmy-award winning tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith perform in ‘Fastest Feet in Rhythm' organised by U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, in association with Dr. G.R. Damodaran college of Science, and Kirtilals, in the city on Tuesday.- Photo: K. Ananthan

The chasm of age between them went unnoticed. The differences in nationalities waned. The origin of the dance forms became unimportant as Indian Kathak met American jazz tap to enthral the discerning Coimbatore audience at Dr. G.R. Damodaran College of Science here on Tuesday evening.

As the ‘ghungroo’ clad bare feet of 68-year old Pandit Chitresh Das matched the metal shoed feet of 37-year-old Jason Samuels Smith, tap for tap, there was nothing to tell the two dance forms apart.

Best footwork

Through their performance, Kathak exponent Pandit Das and Emmy-award winner Smith blurred geographical, traditional and generation boundaries to bring out the uniqueness of their dance forms while underscoring one’s likeness to the other.

The speed of their footwork was aptly brought out in the title of their performance, ‘Fastest Feet in Rhythm’. Adding rhythm were a trio playing Hindustani music and another playing American jazz.

‘Only music’

While Mr. Smith opened the performance with his solo jazz piece, Pandit Das did so with his ‘Jhaat’ on Lord Shiva. He followed it up with his famous piece on the railway engine. There was also a slot for ‘only music’ as Hindustani and American jazz notes blended to turn into some soul stirring music.

It was not only dance that crossed borders, but music too did. Mr. Smith tapped his American feet to match the beats emanating from the Indian ‘tabla’.

Finale

Though there was some structure to the whole performance, the dancers challenged and dared each other at some moments of spontaneity. The finale was what took the cake as both of them scorched the stage with their best footwork.

The event was organised by the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, in collaboration with Kirtilal Kalidas Jewellers and Dr. G.R. Damodaran College of Science.

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