TWO CULTURES MEET

Classical dance: Romanee Kalicharran in traditional dance attire for Kathak, a classical North Indian dance. Kalicharran is of Puerto Rican and Indo-Guyanese descent and will be teaching a workshop series for both of her cultures dances.
Renee K. Productions

A dance company is premiering an intercultural series showcasing a connection between two cultures starting Nov. 8.

“Where Kathak and Bomba Meets in Me,” is a two-week multi-borough event from Nov. 8–20 that will take a look into Indo-Guyanese and Puerto Rican dance culture for an educational and interactive workshop for dance enthusiasts. The creator of the series — who is of both cultural backgrounds — said the event is as much a spiritual adventure, as a learning one.

“It’s a journey for audience members and students to partake in,” said Romanee Kalicharran, organizer of the event and founder of Romanee and Company.

“It will be transforming to see and explore these cultures through the historical aspect of colonization of various places.”

One of the main highlights of the series includes dance classes going through the basics of Kathak, a north Indian classical dance, and Bomba, a Puerto Rican drum-based rhythmic dance. For Kalicharran, she says growing up with a Puerto Rican mother and Guyanese father, these dances lived inside her since childhood even though it took some learning to combine them together for a series.

“I’ve been planning this for years and I think that me being of mixed heritage — it’s always been in back of my mind. The concept has been growing forever,” she said.

“It takes a lot of training in both traditions as well.”

Five musicians including Kalicharran, will beat drums, sing, teach, and dance in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Aside from the interactive dance classes, the event also includes a panel discussion with a question and answer session to take place on Nov. 12 in the Bronx, readings of historical and academic readings about the dances, and a food tasting, which will be apart of the grand finale show on the final day. Guests will be able to not only participate in the dances and interact with other cultures, but reflect on their own backgrounds, said Kalicharran.

“This is something that will be interesting to see — how someone within the cultural community looking at their own styles reacts and how someone from outside the culture has a whole different perspective — we welcome that and we want that,” she said. “All viewpoints are important and valid.”

Despite the name of the event, Kalicharran says the series is not a personal exploration of herself and rather a search to connect to the people who passed down the dances.

“It’s not my personal story but my cultural connection — it’s something I feel strongly about,” she said. “I’m reaching out to my ancestors and keep their memory as it comes alive in the drums, dance, and drama. I’m putting that forth as a continuance of my varied culture.”

With the cultural variety of the event, she says she hopes to see that diversity reflected in the guests who attend, and most importantly seeing a younger audience there.

“It’s important for people of this generation to know that this project also aims to help by showing future generations how to deal with cultural identity and understand how to come to terms with those ‘bigger’ questions,” she said. “My aim is to not only have people relate to their own backgrounds but to cultures they’re not from. I want the younger ones to have pride in where they come from and have them appreciate their unique culture.”

“Where Kathak and Bomba Meets in Me,” Nov. 8–20 at various locations and times, www.romaneeandcompany.com. $10-50.

Julia De Burgos Art Center [1690 Lexington Ave between E. 105th and E. 106th Streets in Manhattan, (212) 831-4333, www.jdbpacnyc.org]. Nov. 8–10, 7–8:30 pm.

Andrew Freeman Complex [1125 Grand Concourse between E. 166th and McClellan Streets in the Bronx, (718) 293-8100, andrewfreedmancomplex.com]. Nov. 12, 15–16 at 6–8 pm.

Bronx Music Hertiage Center [1303 Louis Nine Blvd between Intervale Avenue and Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, (917) 557-2354, whedco.org]. Nov. 17, 6:30–8:30 pm and Nov. 19, 7–9 pm.

Brooklyn Music School [126 St. Felix St. between Lafayette Avenue and Hanson Place, (718) 638-5660, brooklynmusicschool.org]. Nov. 20, 5:30–9 pm.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.
Bomba dance: Kalicharran in Bomba dance attire. The dance style originates from Puerto Rico.
Renee K. Productions

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