My review of “Kathak at the Crossroads” is in today’s Chronicle:

” “The ‘one’ is Krishna,” Birju Maharaj told an entranced audience Friday at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater. “All the beats want to reach toward Krishna, to one, to home,” said the 68-year-old master of Indian Kathak dance. “You are going everywhere, but you are coming back home.”

By “one” he meant the downbeat, the start of a new rhythmic cycle and the mystical moment of wholeness in Kathak, which is as much about musicianship as movement. And over the next hour he took his audience on ever more surprising journeys there, toying with time so that you could almost hear it in three dimensions, testing silence to the point that you wondered how he could ever reconnect, and always, astonishingly, arriving home with perfect surety.

His rhythms were an education in recognizing order in seeming chaos, like hearing music in rainfall or suddenly seeing a stunning design in the night stars. They seemed to promise that everything in life will be revealed to have pattern and purpose, if you have patience to wait for the downbeat.

Maharaj was the banner attraction of Kathak at the Crossroads, a landmark international festival organized by San Francisco’s own esteemed Kathak guru, Chitresh Das. His performance revealed why the ancient art form thrives, and why its future is worth worrying about. The three-day festival was a celebration, to be sure, with dozens of gurus and disciples flown in from India, and crowds of connoisseurs from the Bay Area’s large Indian community in attendance.”

Click here for the full review.

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