SALEM — Anjali Mitter Duva begins her fascinating story in the desert region of Rajasthan. It was in Rajasthan, in northern India, that kathak dance — a new kind of storytelling — took root. It was also where her own interest in kathak dance began.
On Wednesday, September 21, Duva comes to The House of the Seven Gables to share stories in words and dance. Kathak is a classical storytelling art, says Duva. “It is the only art form from the region to seamlessly meld Hindu and Muslim aesthetics and traditions, and, in that way, it is unique.” Its evolution parallels the region’s tumultuous history.
Duva is a seasoned storyteller. In 2014 she published her historical novel, “Faint Promise of Rain”— proving herself an artist adept at transmitting stories with words as well as movement. According to Duva, kathak dance changed as it traveled through the region and through time. The dance was first performed by Hindu temple women, then Muslim courtesans, residents of red light districts and, now, by artists on the international stage. While there are many traditional kathak stories, mostly drawn from Hindu myths, today’s use of kathak includes stories ranging from Greek myths to social issues like the plight of garment workers.
“In part,” says Duva, “the value of kathak is that it’s a storytelling art form. It’s universal in that it can be used to tell any story. It’s a very dynamic and percussive style that speaks to you in a compelling and beautiful way.”
Duva’s highly anticipated lecture is part of the Seven Lectures at Seven Gables series. It will take place on Wednesday, September 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Visitor Center. A book signing at The Gables Museum Store follows the lecture and performance. Admission is $7 for nonmembers and free for members. Refreshments will be served. Some parking is available at The Gables, 115 Derby St., Salem, Massachusetts. To reserve seats for this lecture, those interested may complete the online reservation form at www.7gables.org, or call 978-744-0991, ext.104, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Duva was raised in France and now lives in the Boston area. She is co-founder of Chhandika, a nonprofit organization dedicated to kathak. She is a frequent speaker at literary conferences, libraries, schools and cultural venues. Educated at Brown University and MIT, she is working on her next book. She also runs a children’s book club as well as the Arlington Author Salon. Visit her at www.anjalimitterduva.com and on Twitter @AnjaliMDuva.
About The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association
The mission of the House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association is to preserve our National Historic Landmark and leverage its power as an icon of American culture to engage diverse audiences and provide education opportunities for our local immigrant community. For more information visit www.7gables.org.