Tap dance will meet Kathak in Toronto when this award-winning dance duo stir up magic through their feet

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An artist’s vision should be limitless.

It should be flexible, resilient and be able to reinvent itself in new and exciting ways.

Seema Mehta, a well-known Kathak dancer, and Emmy-award-winning tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith check off all the above-mentioned boxes.

In their upcoming show, Rhythm Rewritten, happening in Toronto and other cities in Canada, the duo combines the timeless grace of Kathak with the intricacies of tap dance without diluting the sanctity of either.

You can watch their incredible chemistry and footwork, Thursday, May 16 at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr. Toronto at 8 p.m.  This show is a must-see for everyone that loves dance, art, culture, and music.

“Our performance is all improv,” says Seema, who was trained by the renowned Chitresh Das and with whom Jason created the award-winning ‘India Jazz Suites.’”

Seema Mehta, a renowned Kathak dancer, and a disciple of the late Chitresh Das has been carrying on the legacy of her guru. Photo courtesy of Seema Mehta

“What is incredible about Jason’s dance is his ability to focus and really listen to what’s happening around him which he absorbs and recreates through his body,” she continued. “Even though (the energy), is coming out of the tap shoes, it’s, in fact, going through his whole body. Jason’s dance decisions are made in a split second…”

Sounds intriguing, no? Check out the video.

Witness the battle of the feet in Toronto

The staccato sounds produced tap shoe complement the musical cadence of the Ghungroo (bell anklet) in a mesmerizing way. A fact that the world was able to witness because Chitresh Das, a jazz aficionado, imagined Kathak as a force that could easily blend with other forms.

In 2004, the American Dance Festival in North Carolina invited Chitresh Das to be part of the line-up. The event also featured a Flamenco company as well as three tap dancers including Jason.

When Jason and Chitresh Das jammed, they both experienced an incredible connection, both personally and as artists.

“That was my first exposure to Kathak and I was fascinated by the rhythms, energy, storytelling and the precision of the dancers,” Jason recalled with nostalgia. “Dada (as Das was known) was a larger-than-life personality. He had an incredible desire to preserve his style and promote it to the world. I admired that because in tap dance too, we strive for the same thing.”

And thus, began a friendship and collaboration that continues.

Emmy-award-winning tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith will bring his energy and tap shoes to Toronto for Rhythm Rewritten, a show where Samuels Smith collaborates with Kathak dancer Seema Mehta for a scintillating performance. Photo courtesy of Matthew Murphy.

When Seema and Jason are on stage, each feeds off the energy of the other as well draws strength from an enthusiastic crowd.

Case in point. Students across various IIT Campuses in India gave Seema and Jason rousing feedback when the duo performed in their campuses. The audience was loud, energetic and enthusiastic.

So, what can you expect at Rhythm Rewritten concert?

Simple, an hour-and-half performance, from two stellar artists that understand music and dance and communicate without a word.

The show will feature two solo acts with Seema showcasing her Kathak IQ and Jason exhibiting his outstanding abilities. Then, the two will jointly perform together.

“It’s kind of like a concert but it’s also a conversation between individuals and styles (of dance), between cultures, time, generation, etc,” Jason explains. “We both build bridges within our art forms without changing it. Unlike a fusion act where the lines get so blurry that you don’t know what’s what, we use a traditional vocabulary to express a current conversation.”

Rhythm Rewritten concert features Debashis Sarkar (vocals), Jayanta Banerjee (Sitar), Satyaprakash Mishra (Tabla), Ian de Sousa (bass), and Theo Hill (piano). For tickets, visit here.

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