Rita Mustaphi is a choreographer, dancer, educator and the founder and Artistic Director of Katha Dance Theatre.
She is a is a native of Kolkata, India and a graduate of Rabindra Bharati University of Performing Arts in Kolkata, India. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiology from the Calcutta University, Kolkata, India. Mustaphi learned Kathak dance from Pandit Vijai Shankar in Kolkata and later took intensive training from the living legend Pandit Birju Maharaj at New Delhi, India.
In her 28 years of professional dance, she has choreographed, directed and danced more than 50 new works, some of them were most challenging and exciting dance/theater and dance-opera works that has been presented locally, nationally, and internationally to acclaimed audiences. In 1994, she performed as a company member of the Guthrie Theatre in Minnesota. In 1997 she performed as a troupe member of Pandit Birju Maharaj at Carnegie Hall, New York. In 2003 She performed at the prestigious international Kathak Dance Festival, New Delhi, India organized by the Kathak Kendra, the National Institute of Kathak dance in India. Her Katha Dance Theatre (KDT) is distinguished by its impeccable technique, its capacity to expand the Indian classical Kathak dance vocabulary and realize new works and its collaborations across discipline.
Her selected awards include three McKnight Fellowships for choreography, dancer fellowship from Minnesota State Arts Board, leadership award from the Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans, 2011 Lifetime achievement award from the India Association of Minnesota and 2012 Education Award from the Ordway Center of Performing Arts in the category of Excellence in Vision.
Her works received financial support from local and national funding organizations including the McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts. Mustaphi is a teaching artist for COMPAS, and the Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts in Minnesota.
Sudha’s Story – a Poetry in motion - the piece de resistance
- India Today
From Minnesota with magic in her steps she creates a spirit that sets her apart at the festival
- Hindustan Times
The complexity and power of Katha Dance Theatre’s stories are fully realized in their dynamic, percussive dance sequences.
- Star and Tribune
My work has been described by audience members and media as “eloquent, inventive, powerful and moving”.
While adept in the classical Kathak vocabulary my work infuses contemporary sensibility acquired from my intense interest in expression, rhythm works and movement idioms. I believe that my work covers an impressive range, from virtuoso traditional exposition of Kathak dance, through large-scale and always arresting adaptations of classics to boldly innovative creative collaborations with choreographers, designers and musicians. I see dance as a primary medium of artistic discourse - and through my gift for movement metaphor infuses poetic, emotional meaning into a satisfying creative blend.
I am a multi-hyphenated artist (dancer, choreographer, director, actor) with a lifetime career spanning three decades and a commitment to Kathak dance; over 500 performances; over 50 original choreographic works; teaching more than 25,000 children, youth and adults, I have created a body of work that combines the traditional elements of Kathak with contemporary themes, and drawn inspiration from artistic collaborations and other cultures. Through performances, collaborations, teaching and outreach activities, I fulfill my need to be creative and this community’s need for Kathak dance; I mold it, transmit it and evolve with it.