Notes from Pramit
My conversation with Dr Sarah Morelli is a fascinating look into how she became a Kathaka, Academic, and a student of Hindustani Music. Her book, "A Guru's Journey" detailing the life of Pt Chitresh Das is my favorite book on Kathak and I feel honored to be able to present this episode to all of you!
PS: Please note that the name of the book in the introduction is "A Guru's journey" and not "Tales of A modern Guru"
Sarah Morelli was blessed to train with two of the greatest artists of recent generations: renowned kathak master Pandit Chitresh Das and maestro Ali Akbar Khan, from whom she studied vocal music and the sarod, as well as their disciples Dr. George Ruckert, Gretchen Hayden, Steve Oda, and Pt. Rajeev Taranath.
Her book, A Guru’s Journey: Pandit Chitresh Das and Indian Classical Dance in Diaspora (University of Illinois Press, 2019), is an ethnographic examination of Pandit Das’s artistic contributions and the development of kathak’s “California gharana.”
Active as a kathak performer, scholar, and educator, Sarah is an Associate Professor at the University of Denver Lamont School of Music and a founding member of the Leela Dance Collective. Her kathak performances have included full solos and leading roles in productions in U.S. and India at venues such as Mumbai’s Royal Opera House, LA’s Ford Amphitheatre, and Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. Sarah is founder and artistic director of Sureela, a kathak academy in Denver, CO that has recently joined sister schools in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York in creating the national institution the Leela Institute of Kathak.
0:02:26 How did Sarah Morelli Get into Kathak
0:14:52 Keeping up with Everything
0:18:14 Teaching Kathak to different ethnicities
0:21:49 Why did people stick to learning with Pt Chitresh Das ji
0:23:55 Personal Connection with Pt ji
0:25:17 Meaning of Intense Workshop
0:51:42 Dynamics of Leela Collective
1:02:25 Memorable Experiences in performing
1:10:20 What is Sarah ji's Style of Kathak
1:13:50 Work in Denver
1:17:34 Differences between now and then
1:25:17 Portrayal of Pt Chitresh Das ji
1:25:33 Make this book controversial