Ahead of Parivaar, the curatorial team features Minnesotan organizations creating families out of their communities

By Schubert Club

Katha Dance Theatre, Directors: Rita and Kalyan Mustaphi

Footage from Parivaar. Photo credit: Kylee and Christian Creative | Landmark Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Katha Dance Theatre is a Minnesotan performance company, school, and community outreach organization dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of Kathak and promoting its innovation. Artistic Director Rita Mustaphi leads the company, with spouse Kalyan Mustaphi serving as Executive Director. 

The family-community Rita has created had to be built from the ground up. “When I first came [to Minnesota], it was 1970,” she says in an interview with TPT. “There was nothing Indian in this town. We had a handful of people. Out of need, we had to create a Little India here.” 
Rita is one of the founders of the South Asian cultural scene in Minnesota, not only through Katha Dance Theatre, but also through initiatives like SILC (School of Indian Languages and Culture), which she helped begin. Because of people like her, the community has become a family – parivaar.

Kala Vandanam, Director: Suchitra Sairam

Footage from Parivaar. Photo credit: Kylee and Christian Creative | Landmark Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Kala Vandanam is a Saint Paul-based dance school and organization propagating the Kalakshetra style of bharatanatyam to the next generations. When asked about the topic of family, the Kala Vandanam community responds enthusiastically – more than a dozen members have something to share. 

“The Kala Vandanam family has evolved and grown,” says founder Suchitra Sairam. “We’ve learned to be serious about the work without taking ourselves too seriously. Most importantly, we celebrate together and grow because of each other.”

Kala Vandanam is known for having classes that students want to attend. “It’s not a classroom or school where I drop off my child,” says parent Devi Vijayakumar. “It’s a tightly-knit community with a sense of belonging.”

“Kala Vandanam has always been my second home and a place where I can truly express myself,” says dancer Malini Sundaramoorthy. “Watching others grow beside me is almost like watching a sibling grow up with you back at home.”
“Suchi Akka is truly family to me,” says dancer Arjun Acharya of his teacher, using the word akka – older sister – for his guru. “I know that I can go to her for anything.”

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