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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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Teaching in a New Country

Teaching in a New Country

(p.70) 4 Teaching in a New Country
A Guru's Journey

Sarah Morelli

University of Illinois Press

The first period of Pandit Chitresh Das’s teaching in California (approximately 1971–88) was marked by culture clashes largely deriving from differences in the expectations of his primarily white, female students and those of Pandit Das, who worked to replicate the strict training he had received from his guru in India. For his new dance students, Pandit Das’s training concentrated on physical “readiness” and rhythmic virtuosity, through relatively linear movements and strong footwork. This chapter introduces readers to the basics of kathak footwork, while arguing that Pandit Das’s focus on particular areas of dance technique was an adaptive strategy; by providing such objective, quantifiable means of displaying his students’ skill, he sought to circumvent criticisms of these non-Indian dancers for not “looking Indian.

Keywords:   California, culture clashes, training, guru, rhythmic virtuosity, footwork, dance technique, adaptive strategy, non-Indian dancers

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