Katha Dance Theatre
Classical North Indian dance performance
Katha Dance Theatre (KDT) creates, performs, and educates through the arts dance, music, poetry, and storytelling. Rooted in Kathak, the classical dance style of North India, KDT is dedicated to making dance accessible, inclusive, and relevant. It enhances the community by bridging diverse cultures and audiences to contribute to life's infinite artistic expressions. Serving the Twin Cities as well as communities in Greater Minnesota, its objective is to: Dance. Discover. Transform.
Founded in 1987 by Rita Mustaphi, KDT is Minnesota's first Asian Indian dance company. Rita Mustaphi is internationally known for her innovative, multicultural, and genre-defying choreography that preserves the Kathak tradition while at the same time diversifying it. KDT specializes in Kathak dance, the 2,000-year-old classical dance of North India that has evolved into a blend of Indo-Persian and Hindu-Islamic cultures, featuring complex rhythms, intricate footwork, graceful movements, pirouettes and gestural storytelling.
KDT is the only Kathak dance company in Minnesota, and one of only 12 in the U.S. They fulfill their mission by producing original Kathak works that often feature international guest artists; touring regionally, nationally and internationally; and educating students , both at their Kathak Dance School and during summer intensive classes with Ms. Mustaphi and guest artists. KDT regularly provide community outreach programs—residencies, workshops, master classes, lectures, and demonstrations—to schools, community organizations, and corporate events to help build intercultural understanding and acceptance.
Rita Mustaphi is choreographer, dancer, educator, and a disciple of the living legend Pandit Birju Maharaj in Kathak style of Indian classical dance. She is known for her innovations in Kathak dance, her multi-disciplinary productions incorporating spoken word, live and commissioned music, and the utilization of production elements. She is Founder and Artistic Director of Katha Dance Theatre. Under her vision and leadership, the company has become renowned for its dynamic productions, distinctive movement style, and technical virtuosity. Her work, intelligently crafted storytelling, is recognized as being profoundly moving and effortlessly intimate.
Ms. Mustaphi is a recipient of three McKnight Fellowships for choreography, a Leadership award from the Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans, a Lifetime Achievement award from the India Association of Minnesota and an Education award from the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in the category of Excellence in Vision. Most recently, she received the 2021 “Nari Shakti Award” from the Indian Government in New Delhi, India, given for her work in the cause of women empowerment.
With a career and a commitment to Kathak dance spanning 30+ years, over 500 performances, and 50+ original choreographic works, she still revels in the process of directing bodies in space, creating movement on her own body and exploring what “moves” an audience to become engaged emotionally, intellectually and musically. Her works have been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Minnesota State Arts Board, The McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Target Foundation and 3M Foundation.