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Chitresh Das Dance Company & Chhandam School of Kathak Dance

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Cultural & Ethnic Awareness, Dance

Mission: Founded in 1980, we are dedicated to the preservation, promotion and education of Kathak dance and Indian Culture. Based in San Francisco, the company performs internationally and most frequently throughout the US and India. The Chitresh Das Dance Company’s mission is to: Produce exemplary traditional, innovative, and collaborative works of North Indian classical Kathak dance Increase awareness of Kathak dance Train future generations and build local, national and international community support for the Kathak tradition The Chhandam School of Kathak dance, founded and directed by internationally renowned Kathak master Pandit Chitresh Das, is the largest Indian classical dance institution in North America. For its thirty-year history, Chhandam has and continues to impact the preservation and promotion of Kathak at the highest caliber locally, nationally, and internationally.

Geographic areas served: San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Los Angeles, Kolkata

Programs: The Chitresh Das Dance Company (home seasons and touring), Chhandam School of Kathak Dance, Nritya Bharati Institute of Kathak, Chhandam Youth Dance Company

Community Stories

15 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My family has been associated with Chhandam for about 5 years now. It all started when we wanted our daughters to have an exposure to Indian culture & classical arts. Having grown up in India I consider myself fortunate to have been exposed to the Indian classical arts from a very young age. I firmly believe that that exposure has enriched my life tremendously and wished the same for my kids. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that we would have access to an organisation such as Chhandam right here in the US; an organisation of indivduals whose main focus, at every tier,is promoting and preserving the ancient Indian classical dance form of Kathak, using dance to reach out to and help the underprivileged and bridge boundaries and working tirelessly to ensure that this art form is preserved for future generations. Both my kids are now so involved in the dance and are truly passionate about it, it is gratifying for us as parents to see them invest in and associate so deeply with their heritage and grow into strong, passionate and committed young women. Chhandam is blessed to receive the guidance and direction of world renowned Kathak maestro Pandit Chitresh Das whose vision & dedication has helped grow the organization into a world class dance institute & largest Indian classical dance school in North America. And I consider myself & my family blessed to have an association with Chhandam & Pandit Chitresh Das.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter and I have been students at Chhandam for 2.5 years now. I lived abroad as a child and have little depth into Indian culture/arts/music and enjoyed all these at a surface level. I am eternally thankful to Chhandam that my daughter is learning not just dance but also history, cultural etiquette, discipline & focus. She proudly & confidently claims her Indian heritage thanks to Chhandam. Chhandam opens its doors to students of all abilities including mothers like myself learning dance for the 1st time. All students are pushed to test their boundaries. The teachers set a great example with their dedication to excellence and discipline. The results are obvious not just within the confines of kathak, but also in our daily lives as we are continually reinforced with the guiding 9 principles of Chhandam and we strive to make incremental improvements year by year.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Chhandam is so much more than a Kathak class. It’s where my daughter has learned about her ancestors' unique history, culture, customs, and traditions including respect for Guru. Having lived all of her life in USA, it gives me immense pride that my daughter has learned to hold on to Indian traditions which are so rich, diverse and unique in its own way.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am grateful that I have found Chhandam for my daughter. Not only is it unique and devoted in preserving the artform, it embraces younger generation to immerse in it and make it their own by infusing in them the traditional values and the confidence to challenge themselves to excel.

3 uma1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I stepped into Chhandam 3+ years back it was just to find a dance school for my daughter, to maintain her connection with our home land (India). Little did I know that it was going to become a way of life for me soon. Pandit Chitresh Das is widely acclaimed as an artistic virtuoso, but his altruism and guiding principles of life is lesser known. And it is his dedication in practicing & preserving art as a service to society that has bonded me and my family forever to this organization. Chhandam goes to great length to practice Panditji's vision which is universally applicable to all humanity. And it has been pure joy to watch the young children ( including my lil one) blooming into strong and caring individuals with a passion to learning.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When my daughter at the age of nine expressed that she wants to be a part of something meaningful that would give her the sense of belonging, I decided to enroll her in Chhandam School. It was to me just another extracurricular activity at the beginning. Within the first year, my mindset changed as they enthralled me by their principles/philosophy. At a very young age, both my daughters are learning not just the beautiful art form but also learning to become a beautiful human being. Thanks to Chhandam School my girls are closer to our heritage.

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have had a great experience with Chhandam and have been with this dance school for over four years. Every class is always a challenge, pushing me not only as an artist, but physically as well. Every day I am seeing myself progress as a dancer under the care and passion of the teachers. Although challenging, a lot of emphasis is placed on really understanding taal(a rhythmic cycle of beats with an ebb and flow of various types of intonations)which is often overlooked by other dance organizations.

11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Pandit Chitresh Das is unquestionably a dance virtuoso. As a teacher he has elevated Kathak to an internationally renowned art form. Every Indian-American and all Bay Area residents should be proud of his accomplishments. I've observed the Chhandam School of Kathak Dance as a parent for over five years. I enrolled my daughter for the reason that many people do--because I enjoyed the art form myself and thought it would double my enjoyment when I watched her practice and perform. I did not expect it to become such a major factor in her life. She went from taking class for one hour a week to 4-5 hours at present. She gladly dropped all other activities to give Kathak numero uno status, and is passionate about the dance and the traditions surrounding it. I'm enjoying watching my daughter and her classmates grow into graceful, confident, and engaged young women, thanks to the efforts of Chhandam! It's truly a marvel to see the level of passion, dedication, and professionalism in all of the teaching staff. Pandit Das's philosophy and high standards are adhered to in all class locations, and every Chhandam event is meticulously presented. I firmly believe that with greater funds at their disposal this hugely talented organization could reach many more people across society, and take their mission to greater heights.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been very fortunate to have found Chhandam. Chhandam not only strives to pass on the classical dance tradition of Kathak to students of all ages, but under the direction of Pandit Chitresh Das, also instills some core values from within the history, philosophy and the culture of India. I have found Chhandam to be an important part of my education and that of the students I work with as an instructor of beginning level students.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been studying at Chhandam School of Kathak for 3 years now and I wish I had been introduced to it much earlier. Chhandam is not just a dance school, but an educational and cultural institution where one learns history, philosophy and complex organic math through the medium of dance. Chhandam is the vision of the master Kathak dancer, Pandit Chitresh Das, who has been working hard all his life to educate, preserve and promote the traditional art form. He is not just a phenomenal artist of this age, but is also a very dedicated teacher who believes in people's inner strength and is willing to put his time and effort in training them. In the last 40 years Pandit Das has made a significant and valuable contribution to the social and cultural diversity of not just California but also India, by bridging the east and the west through his art. Chhandam has been actively involved in community building in the bay area as well as in India. Students of Chhandam study dance and much more. Its path to self discovery that takes one closer to spirituality and joy. I feel fortunate to be a part of Chhandam and have the opportunity to be benefitted by the vision of a Master Artist like Pandit chitresh Das.

1 labonee-mohan

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am fortunate to have had a long journey with this organization. In fact, I had the great opportunity of being raised in it, starting Kathak at the age of 8 with the artistic director and founder Pandit Chitresh Das! It is a very rare thing to learn directly from a master, but even more so to study with one from childhood. I have seen the organization serve thousands of people, ranging from the Indian diaspora in America to White Americans, young 5-yr olds to older 50-yr olds, and even males to females! And it has really succeeded (and is continuing to do so) in spreading the value of the Indian classical art & tradition to America. Speaking from the point of view of a second generation Indian, born and brought up in North America, I was fortunate that my parents enrolled me in the school so that I could grow up with something pure and meaningful that connected me to my roots. Even in India when I went w/ my Guruji last summer, I saw how the organization is also bringing BACK the value there as well. As the Westernization of India has diluted much of its spiritual and cultural heritage, Chhandam is fighting to reinstitute these values and energize India to rediscover its pride. And finally to be able to go from learning as a kid, to becoming a Kathak teacher who makes a difference (by passing the knowledge and values on to the next generation) and now even pursuing the dance as a professional career and inspiring others as a performer - I say, what a rare organization to be able to do all that! Chhandam has taught me a disciplined and self-evolving, meaningful way of life, and I am proud to be a part of it!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been associated with this wonderful Dance School-Chhandam since my daughter joined as a student 5 years ago. Inspite of being away from my home country India, Chhandam provides an Indian Classical Kathak dance platform to my daughter here in bayarea and helps us also contribute towards preserving the art form. Along with Kathak, students are also being taught the history and philosphy of Indian culture, the music, respect towards others and self discipline. These aspects help the students in their daily lives and build self confidence. The Staff at Chhandam has amazing dedication towards the art form which helps them impart the teachings of the Guru Pt. Chitresh Das with passion. I am proud to be associated with Chhandam School of Kathak Dance.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My nine year old daughter has been at Chhandam for more than three years, and my six year old son started last fall. I feel that Chhandam is doing an amazing job of not just preserving Indian culture, but giving its students a wealth of "life skills" to use throughout daily life. They teach the benefits of hard work and perseverence. In this day and age, where many children are given rewards and certificates for doing very little, Chhandam rewards based on hard work, commitment, and attitude. This will be an invauable tool for my daughter as she enters her middle school and high school years. Finally, I am not Indian, but my husband is. Both of our children are adopted from India and we feel that Chhandam gives them so many opportunities to be proud of their Indian heritage. Chhandam has teachers and students from many ethnic backgrounds and the fact that so many non-Indian people want to be involved in something so deeply rooted in Indian culture will be a tremendous source of pride for them as they grow up outside of India.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Though Chhandam is dedicated to the preservation, promotion and education of Kathak dance and Indian Culture worldwide, it doesn't begin and end with "just dance." Many of us naively think that classical dance training is the formal instruction of a specific dance form. Chhandam actually teaches Math and Philosophy through its principles and its dance classes in the Bay Area. Nowhere in the world have I personally seen the caliber and dedication of the staff that is observed here. Chhandam teaches the core values of life to our children and these values can and will form the very foundation of tomorrow's society. In a time and age when our children are seeing selfishness and wealth as drivers of our world, it is so important for them to be trained in institutions like Chhandam, where through the popular dance form, they are actually learning to be good human beings. And most of all, they are improving their reading and cognitive skills because of the training here.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has attended Chhandam School of Kathak Dance for almost two years now and it has been a more than amazing experience. I am Indian and grew up in the U.S., my daughter is half Indian and half American. I wanted my daughter to have an experience that would bring her closer to my culture. Chhandam has done that and more. My daughter has learned different things about my culture that I did not know. She appreciates her culture. She has grown to love a classical dance that only a few people really know how to perform. She has teachers who are symbols of grace and dignity, and who are the ideal role models or "big sisters." My daughter's learning experience goes beyond the dance room and has even expanded my horizons! I am very happy that my daughter has the opportunity to experience such a great learning environment.