When I stepped into Chhandam 3+ years back, it was just to find a dance school for my daughter to maintain her connection with our homeland (India). Little did I know that it was going to become a way of life for me soon. Pandit Chitresh Das is widely acclaimed as an artistic virtuoso, but his altruism and guiding principles of life is lesser known. And it is his dedication in practicing & preserving art as a service to society that has bonded me and my family forever to this organization.
- Uma Menon (Student/parent/volunteer)
After learning Kathak from various different teachers and organizations, at Chhandam I finally started to understand all the concepts of kathak. Today if someone asked me what kathak is, or what I was dancing, or even how was I doing it, I would be able to explain the theory, mechanics, and history behind it all. This understanding has only come through the teaching of Chhandam; no other organization or school teaches in this way.
- Himani Bhartiya (Student - 18 years old)
Chhandam is so much more than a Kathak class. It’s where my daughter has learned about her ancestors' unique history, culture, customs, and traditions including respect for the Guru. Having lived all of her life in USA, it gives me immense pride that my daughter has learned to hold on to Indian traditions which are so rich, diverse and unique in its own way.
- Nisha Advani (Parent)
My nine year old daughter has been at Chhandam for more than three years, and my six year old son started last fall. I feel that Chhandam is doing an amazing job of not just preserving Indian culture, but giving its students a wealth of "life skills" to use throughout daily life. They teach the benefits of hard work and perseverence. In this day and age, where many children are given rewards and certificates for doing very little, Chhandam rewards based on hard work, commitment, and attitude. This will be an invauable tool for my daughter as she enters her middle school and high school years. Finally, I am not Indian, but my husband is. Both of our children are adopted from India and we feel that Chhandam gives them so many opportunities to be proud of their Indian heritage. Chhandam has teachers and students from many ethnic backgrounds and the fact that so many non-Indian people want to be involved in something so deeply rooted in Indian culture will be a tremendous source of pride for them as they grow up outside of India.
- Amy Bhatnagar (parent)
Regardless of whether I was taking classes or not, Kathak has been a significant part of my life since the age of five. My mother, a disciple of Pandit Chitresh Das, kept me immersed in its traditions and history. Some would think my mother was pressuring me to follow in her footsteps, but the pressure I felt actually came from inside me; I felt that I had to dance because my mom did. This was the reason I came back to Chhandam in 2009, but over time I realized the true reason why I kept returning: My love for the dance- the joy I feel when I do multiple chakkars, and the high I feel after 16 cycles of solagun. This feeling of pure happiness was hidden underneath the pressure I put on myself.
Kathak has also taught me many things. One lesson I learned was not to dance to impress others, but to learn for self-growth. Another is about my culture and India's history. Just being around Dadaji and listening to the inspirational things he says has impacted the way that I think and see the world. Kathak has become a part of me, and it is something I can never forget.
- Sahya Patel (Student - 15 years old)
My daughter and I have been students at Chhandam for 2.5 years now. I lived abroad as a child and have little depth into Indian culture/arts/music and enjoyed all these at a surface level. I am eternally thankful to Chhandam that my daughter is learning not just dance but also history, cultural etiquette, discipline & focus. She proudly & confidently claims her Indian heritage thanks to Chhandam. Chhandam opens its doors to students of all abilities including mothers like myself learning dance for the first time. All students are pushed to test their boundaries. The teachers set a great example with their dedication to excellence and discipline. The results are obvious not just within the confines of kathak, but also in our daily lives as we are continually reinforced with the guiding 9 principles of Chhandam and we strive to make incremental improvements year by year.
- Kanthi Sarkar (Volunteer, student, parent)
I have had a great experience with Chhandam and have been with this dance school for over four years. Every class is always a challenge, pushing me not only as an artist, but physically as well. Every day I am seeing myself progress as a dancer under the care and passion of the teachers. Although challenging, a lot of emphasis is placed on really understanding taal(a rhythmic cycle of beats with an ebb and flow of various types of intonations)which is often overlooked by other dance organizations.
- Monica (student)