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Malden YWCA summer camp hosts interactive cultural dance presentation

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Renowned Kathak dance of India expert Anjali Nath appears at Malden High School


By Steve Freker


For a brief, special collection of moments, a Malden High School classroom was recently transformed into a cultural centerpiece. In a whirl of color and a pattering of experienced and demonstrative steps, a group of young Malden YWCA summer camp students were taken on a journey to places they have never even wondered about. On this recent summer morning, some wide-eyed Malden youth were treated to and thrilled by a performance by Anjali Nath, an expert professional in the art of Kathak Dance.

The Malden YWCA program is one of about a dozen municipally-run and private programs that were hosted and based this summer at MHS, through the generosity of the Malden Public Schools, the office of Mayor Gary Christenson and the City of Malden.


Kathak one of eight major forms of dance from India

Kathak is one of the eight major forms of classical dance from India. Kathak is characterized by intricate footwork and precise rhythmic patterns that the dancer articulates by controlling about 100 ankle bells, according to an online report. Kathak was influenced by both Hindu and Muslim culture and is part of the Malden YWCA’s camp goals of sharing new experiences with its young students; they got a firsthand look at an ancient art through Nath’s performance.

Attired in a beautiful, flowing red sari with gold highlights, Nath began a detailed presentation for the students and YWCA staff in the classroom, which quickly evolved into an interactive Kathak dance.


Kathak dance includes presentation of a story

She explained that almost every Kathak dance involves the presentation of a story – through the intricate moves of the dance itself – and many are connected with themes of family, nature and love. As she progressed through her first story involving various animals in the woods, including an interaction of a deer and a hunter, the young Malden children were mesmerized as she went through sounds and chant-like words, which the students repeated with Nath’s encouragement. The YWCA kids then were invited to attempt some of the Kathak dance moves; several took up the challenge enthusiastically, trying some of the dance steps on their own. By the conclusion of the presentation, smiles filled the room and the children had collected a memorable lesson with cultural and life lesson value through their introduction to the gift of dance from India.


Kathak instructor is affiliated with Harvard University

According to the Office for the Arts at Harvard University, with which she is affiliated as an instructor of Kathak dance, Anjali Nath “has passionately pursued a career in Kathak and public health simultaneously for over 25 years, building community and promoting the holistic benefits of Kathak for children through older adults.”

Additionally, “Nath has been teaching and performing across Massachusetts and New England for the past 10 years in partnership with schools, universities, art, and cultural institutions…”


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