A maiden festival organized by the New York Kathak Festival was held April 19 to 21 at the Ailey Studios and Ailey Citigroup Theater in Manhattan. More than 750 Kathak aficionados and artists attended the festival to learn, share, and connect over the three-day event.
The New York Kathak Festival is a registered nonprofit run by a team of 10 young professionals. According to Meenakshi Lala, the NYKF organizing team is mostly millennial women who live and work in the New York and New Jersey area. “The festival is our passion in addition to our careers,” a NYKF press release quoted her as saying. Anisha Muni, also on the festival team said, “we created this event with the intention of using art to bring community together and create a platform for Kathak to blossom in New York City. We’re on a mission to make Kathak a household name.”
Raoul Bhavnani of the India Center Foundation co-sponsored panel discussions on critical conversations relevant to Kathak dance. “An honor to co-host an expert panel on the present, past, and future of Kathak dance today during the Kathak Festival weekend, he said. Eminent artists contributed to the festival, including Pandit Divyang Vakil, Dr. Pallabi Chakravorty, Dr. Purnima Shah. Dr. Sitara Thobani, and many others.
The concert lineup included 50 dancers and 10 musicians from all over the world. Prashant Shah, an Indian dancer now based in New York closed his showcase of traditional and contemporary Kathak to a standing ovation. Shivangi Dake Robert traveled the furthest — all the way from Singapore — and was electric. The weekend was closed with a finale by the festival’s guest of honor, legend Pandit Birju Maharaj and his foremost disciple, Saswati Sen.