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A Guru's JourneyPandit Chitresh Das and Indian Classical Dance in Diaspora$
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Sarah Morelli

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042867

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042867.001.0001

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On the American Stage

On the American Stage

(p.46) 3 On the American Stage
A Guru's Journey

Sarah Morelli

University of Illinois Press

This chapter situates Pandit Chitresh Das’s work within the history of first-generation Indian Americans and other South Asian culture bearers who helped influence US attitudes toward India’s culture and performing arts through the twentieth century. Like many who preceded him, Pandit Das experimented with various performative strategies to attract, educate, retain, and make his tradition comprehensible to audiences in the United States. This chapter considers two of his signature pieces, Twelve Minutes and The Train, in which he variously condensed and expanded on elements of the kathak tradition. With these and other innovations, Pandit Das worked to heighten the variety and virtuosity of his performances in response to the expectations of audiences and dance critics while remaining within the shifting, subjective parameters of tradition.

Keywords:   first-generation, Indian Americans, culture bearers, US attitudes, performative strategies, The Train, kathak tradition, innovations, virtuosity, dance critics

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