It is an unlikely collaboration, but Kathak exponent Pandit Chitresh Das and African-American tap dance performer Jason Samuels Smith have been able to forge an alliance that many call extraordinary. This collaboration is the focus of the documentary titled "Upaj: Improvise," set to air on Monday, Jan. 20, on PBS WORLD.
Pandit Chitresh Das and Emmy award winner Jason Samuels Smith have worked together since 2005, when they created India Jazz Suites, a dance tour that has received much critical acclaim. India Jazz Suites, which has toured both the United States and India, received recognition from the San Francisco Chronicle and won the Isadora Duncan Dance Award (Izzie) for Best Ensemble Performance in 2005.
Debuting under the banner of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, Upaj: Improvise tells the story of how two dancers from widely different traditions and generations joined forces to create India Jazz Suites. The documentary looks beyond entertainment and the artists' differing styles; rather, Upaj: Improvise highlights the personal narratives of how Pandit Chitresh Das and Samuels Smith overcame their struggles to find renewed aspirations and establish a friendship that transcends cultures.