Das, Samuels Smith bring classical Indian dance and tap dance together
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
India Jazz Suites
Chitresh Das (center left) and Jason Samuels Smith (center right) join two live bands for a night of high-energy dancing inIndia Jazz Suites.Photo courtesy ofIndia Jazz Suites.

Pandit Chitresh Das is one of India’s foremost Kathak masters. Jason Samuels Smith is in the upper echelon of American tap dancers. Together, they created India Jazz Suites, which blends dance and live music in a cross-cultural celebration.

The University of Iowa’s Hancher will present India Jazz Suites on Thursday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Englert Theatre.

Kathak is a spiritually-rooted classical dance form from Northern India. The title of “Pandit,” or master, has been conferred on Das in recognition of his expertise in the form. The word “Kathak” is derived from katha, meaning “the art of storytelling.” It is also synonymous with the community of artists known as Kathakas whose hereditary profession was to narrate history while entertaining. With dance, music, and mime, these storyteller of ancient India would bring to life the great scriptures and epics. Das is the leading light carrying the tradition forward today.

An Emmy Award-winner, Samuels Smith is generally considered one of the greatest tappers of his time. At age 15, he was understudying the lead role in Savion Glover’s Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk. Since then, he has taken on numerous projects, including the creation of his own acclaimed company, A.C.G.I. (Anybody Can Get It), and has appeared as a special guest performer on So You Think You Can Dance.

In India Jazz Suites, the two dancers perform separately and together, improvising to live music. Das is accompanied by traditional Indian instruments like table and sitar, while Samuels Smith performs with a jazz trio of piano, bass, and drums. Their collaboration highlights the differences and similarities of their art forms, as well as the universal joy of dance across cultures and generations.

India Jazz Suites is supported by the Hancher Partners and gifts to Hancher Circle through the University of Iowa Foundation.

How to get tickets

Tickets for India Jazz Suites are $35 and $25 for nonstudents; $31.50 and $10 for college students; $31.50 and $22.50 for senior citizens; and $17.50 and $10 for youth. Tickets are available from the Hancher Box Office, located on the first floor of the south end of the Old Capitol Mall near the parking ramp. The Hancher Box Office is open for phone (319-335-1160 or 800-HANCHER) or walk-up business from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Tickets may be ordered online at www.hancher.uiowa.edu. Any remaining tickets will be available for sale one hour before show time at the Englert Theatre.