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Alka Raghuram and Chitresh Das Institute will create a live dance, music, and multimedia work and a short dance film illuminating the intersecting mythology and pollution of India’s sacred Jamuna and Ganges rivers.

Many traditional kathak compositions are set thousands of years ago and based on such works as Jamunake Tuta Para, a Kavita (poem) that depicts Krishna dancing on the banks of the Jamuna River, one of India’s most holy sites. Today, the Jamuna is one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

Filmmaker Raghuram will work with choreographer, Charlotte Moraga and the kathak dancers of Chitresh Das Institute, classical Indian musician and composer Utsav Lal, and other musicians to create a performance based on this contemporary story using traditional, classical forms. They also will create a dance film that can reach wider audiences.

Alka Raghuram is a filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist. In 2014, she created film vignettes for Yatra, a performance collaboration between kathak master Pandit Chitresh Das and Flamenco master Antonio Hidalgo Paz, which premiered in San Francisco. Raghuram’s vignettes tied together segments of Yatra and explored the historical connection between kathak and flamenco. She was working with Pandit Das on a new project just before he died in January 2015. For this new project, Invoking the River, Raghuram will revisit the partnership, this time with Chitresh Das Institute, which was formed in 2016 after Pandit Chitresh Das’s passing to carry on his legacy. The Institute offers classes in kathak from beginning to professional levels and produces an annual home season of performances.

Photo of Alka Raghuram by Falu Bakrania