Jagdish joined the Board of Directors in 2001 as President and last year became the Treasurer. In his professional life, he is a product management and marketing executive with in-depth experience in defining, building and marketing Enterprise, Web, CRM, Business Intelligence and data warehousing systems. He is currently the Senior Vice President of Products for OnRevenue.com.
What drew you to become more involved with the Chitresh Das Dance Company & Chhandam School?
I was attracted to Kathak as a dance form because it is unique from other classical dance forms in its influences of two cultures – Hindu and Muslim. It has aspects of both pure dance and of story-telling. It is aesthetically pleasing in its movements and flow, has intricate mathematics and is closely tied to the culture of India that makes it rich. It has a wonderful mix of the athletics and aesthetics of dance and indian culture. This was one of the motivating factors for me to be involved in the organization as well as my late wife Jaiwanti, who loved to both teach and dance kathak and was instrumental in the evolution of Chhandam since 1990. But I also felt that Chhandam’s Kathak had a holistic approach to life, unlike the western culture that tends to segment aspects of life into various compartments and isolate them. It has benefits for the entire family, from parents to children For someone like me who did not have a background or involvement in any form of art, it seemed a great way to mix heritage, culture, family and a dynamic performing art.
What does it mean to you personally to be a member of the Board of Directors of CDDC/Chhandam?
I feel energized in preserving and promoting the traditional elements of Indian culture which are de-emphasized in this age that we live in – promoting something which can be enjoyed for generations, preserving the legacy and perpetuating the art form and everything that it represents. It also gives me a better view of the art world in terms of knowing how other dance forms are evolving. Being a member of the Board of Directors I can actively contribute in forwarding the Mission statement of the organization – the preservation, promotion of Kathak via education, performances and collaborations.
What are the joys you find in supporting the mission and vision of CDDC/Chhandam?
This is art in action, in the sense that it needs to be practiced to be preserved. So watching children studying at the school is a great joy. The school provides the bulk of funding for the organization, but it is also the main vehicle to project Kathak across the world and across generations. So the school is really a big part of the mission, its growing, we have more students and children coming to study and then there is also a way for the youth to dance professionally via the Chhandam youth company. So for me it is the preservation of the legacy for future generations which is my biggest joy.
How have you seen the organization change over the years?
The organization has grown in many ways in the last 10 years; it’s size, in collaboration and professionalism It has become rich in terms of the talent and the dedication of people throughout the organization, who are keen to propel the organization forward and the zeal of the staff. There has been a lot of hard work from Celine Schein (Executive Director) and the staff (in particular the dance company members). The support from the community and from the sponsors has grown stronger. The organization is being represented not just in the US but all over the world now and of course Panditji’s continuing innovation within tradition of Kathak Yoga. The organization has grown not just in the number of students, but also the number of performances, the quality and depth of productions and it’s exposure in mainstream America. In every organization, there is evolution over time. But the changes in Chhandam in terms of the adherence to the core tradition that continues to appeal not just to Indians, but everyone else. Chhandam has worked with other arts organizations and communities to help them understand Indian heritage and culture.
Any additional thoughts, comments, reflections?
I am hoping as we continue to grow we will have an institution and a home in the Bay Area that teaches all aspects of Indian culture including the language and music as well. We would like to expand to have a foundation of teachers and dance company members who would eventually be able full-time and make a reasonable living through Chhandam instead of having to balance their income with other work to support themselves.