On January 22nd, Kirtilals in Chennai, presented Pandit Chitresh Das & Jason Samuels Smith in the “Fastest Feet in Rhythm!” The dynamic duo then traveled to Mumbai’s prestigious National Centre for the Performing Arts, on January 26th, to perform for a sold out crowd!
This was followed by performances at the Bangalore campus of Indian Institute of Management on January 29th and at Goa’s prestigious Kala Academy on January 31st.
“Fastest Feet in Rhythm,” is a meeting of cultures and fusion of art forms. Chosen as the #1 Dance Performance by the San Francisco Chronicle. Toured all over USA, Canada, Australia, and India.
Chitresh Das Dance Company member, Labonee Mohanta, shares her first hand experiences from the amazing performances!
Chennai & Mumbai
After Guruji’s Mumbai solo, we headed out to Chennai on an early flight. We land, get to where we’re staying, and makeshift a rehearsal room for Fastest Feet. We find a piece of broken / crooked wood that Jason somehow can rehearse on. Jason and Guruji start pounding away- the energy is brought to Chennai immediately. We then proceed to a press meet where newsreporters are awaiting, cameras are flashing, and Jason, Guruji, Seema, Seema’s cousin Suraj and other Kirtilal members are lined up behind the podium in their jewelry store in front of jewelry that we cannot fathom the price of. There they speak about bringing the classical art of the Shinde jewelry exhibition together with the classical art show of Fastest Feet. The next day is extremely exhausting, as the sound / tech people are trying to scramble together such a highly fine-tuned, technical production. Guruji performed Sita Haran, and in this particular show he had the mridangam player Ramakrishnan as well… so the stage came alive in a special way with the rhythms and stories of South India ringing in everyone’s ears as they completed their 1st show of the Fastest Feet Winter tour.
Back to Mumbai – this was yet another special show for so many reasons! Fastest Feet clearly has much love here in Mumbai! The two days before the show we had press (newspapers, TV, radio, etc.) over interviewing Guruji and Jason. In addition to Fastest Feet, we opened the show with children of Chhandam-Mumbai giving the invocation. [Roaring claps from the 1000-seat sold-out audience!!] Then an advanced young childrens’ group performing, to the adults performing a very catchy piece to Debashisda singing a Rajasthani tune. After that I performed, and then Fastest Feet began. This was a really significant beginning because it represented the legacy that Guruji created in India! And the show being done on India’s Republic Day- how fantastic. Seema Mehta spearheading all of this on her own, added the perfect touch by putting a giant Indian flag in the backdrop for this auspicious occasion. Then every single piece in Fastest Feet gets roaring claps of thunder and shouts, waves of energy being bounced back and forth between Guruji, Jason, the musicians, and the audience… sheer excitement and joy emanating from TATA Theater for 2 hours straight! Finishing emotionally with Raghupathi Raghava and Sare Jahan Se Accha, Guruji and Jason bowing down to the flag, and then ending in each others arms… magical.
For more photos from the Chennai event, see below!
Bangalore & Goa
After the fantastic Mumbai show, we headed to Bangalore. We really enjoyed driving through this city, which showed us architecturally magnificent buildings and beautiful lush, green landscapes. We went straight to a press conference at another one of Kirtilal’s high-end stores where they highlighted Guruji & Jason, and Shinde’s jewelry artwork. Guruji and Jason spoke pointedly and eloquently about the Fastest Feet in Rhythm production, their relationship, their overall experiences in their art and their visions. The next day is show day at IIM Bangalore. Let me say one thing – when I took Guruji’s sound system to India, I did not realize then that I would literally be the sound (wo)man at all these concerts! We arrive at the scene a few hours before sound check, and lo and behold, the floor was still being built! On another issue, the sound was very difficult to manage as it was an outdoor concert. Every city had different challenges and successes, but this time I was in doubt as to how this was all going to come together. Cutting the story short, with some creativity and Upaj, a setup was managed and Guruji and Jason yet again awed and inspired another audience of India.
Ending the Fastest Feet in Rhythm tour in Goa. We stayed at the Park Hotel, one of the sponsors for the show at Kala Academy the next day. Our whole time in Goa really was like a dream… being on the beach resort hotel, watching the sunset and sunrise, enjoying the water (except one time when Seema thought she was cast away forever by a really big scary one), Showhouse hosting a cocktail pre-party for the show- being tested on 5 1/2 tihais by Guruji during the party of course. I had to keep reminding myself that we couldn’t go into vacation mode just yet – we still had one more show to do! The venue was a perfect combo of indoor/ outdoor and it felt like we were in heaven seeing the fabulous floor and sound setup! The audience reaction was out of this world! Claps after claps, people looking on in awe. I noticed so many women, children, AND men watching Guruji w/ a smile of joy during his solo portion. I could’t help but be so proud to be part of the whole experience! I can’t tell you how many people came up to me afterwards asking when we would be coming back, and when I responded “next year” the response was “that long from now??”
Can’t think of a more perfect place to end the Winter 2012 Fastest Feet in Rhythm Tour. Spring 2012 India Jazz Suites – watch out!
Photos by R. Moogambigai & Manaz Ganji