The San Francisco Benefit Was a Success!

The San Francisco Benefit raised over $3500 and was a wonderful success!

"The highlight of the evening was a performance of Kuru Yadunandana by Kumkum Lal, who wore a beautiful sari in Mahari fashion given to her by Asako. She was going to get ready at the performance hall, but at Asako's insistence dressed at Asako's home. Asako was able to watch much of the webcast and was happy that we had chosen to show a video of her doing Bilahari Pallavi, which she learned from Kumkumji."

A clip of Kumkum Lal from the Live Telecast on October 27th, 2007....

From:Niharika Mohanty

Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2007 23:37:31 -0700
Subject:Re The Benefit

Dearest Jhelum Apa and our Odissi group,

Thank you for such a warm message of kindness! Vishnu danced Lila Nidhi He beautifully - most definitely his dance was reminiscient of Guruji's (Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra's) dance for his form - it really has become a signature piece for him! Yet, Kumkum Didi brought tears in my eyes, as she performed Kuru Yadu Nandana, in really at times being so reminiscient of Guruji's portrayal, in an item which of course we all remember him! Jyoti Apa's Hanuman Vatika was also enjoyed by all. Mokshya was a most beautiful and enlightening and spiritual experience with Vishnu, Jyoti apa and I. All of us felt this incredible energy perhaps taking over us - in joyously uniting with maybe mind, body and soul for what is of course a powerful and spiritual dance composition and choreography by Guruji. Interestingly, this was an impromptu performance without rehearsal due to lack of time, but yet I think since we individually felt so comfortable with dancing Mokshya in our own way, it was enjoyable to just dance together rather than focusing on the details for coordination and somehow we felt each others energies and ended up coordinated better than anyone including ourselves expected. In 2001, Asako and Leena Mohanty also performed with us for Mokshya but with much more rehearsal as Kalashri Sangha. We united as Kalashri Sangha once again for Asako's sake!

Love and regards to all,
Niharika (Rini)

Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2007 17:25:30 +0530
Subject: Re The Benefit

Dear Dear Rini,
A big strong warm hug from me, to you, to kumkum and to all those who participated. reading this mail brought tears to my eyes, and i am a person who rarely cries...and yes, such events definitely need to happen.

my very best wishes to all of you for making such events happen.

lots of love


From: Niharika Mohanty (On the Benefit)

Sent: Monday, October 29, 2007 2:56:43 AM

It was really incredible the feelings of love that were in the room, love for the dance, love for Asako. Because of the intimate setting, the connection between the packed audience and the performers was really so much more intense and each item just built and intensified this connection. What an emotional and inspirational experience! So much love for Asako!

She has watched the whole program and Ralph said that she smiled the entire time, and Kumkum Didi had said that she was very ill on Friday and Saturday, and as Kumkum Didi got ready in front of her, the program began and as she watched her mood completely changed.

I felt God was instrumental in making this event come together! I always felt that I was doing God's work over the past few weeks - sleeping about 3-4 hours each night, and it was amazing how each detail fell into place, and so very wonderful how a community which
never comes together contributed with so much love for making this happen. From the feedback I have received, this event has really proven to many in the dance community that we need to have more such events, but not just in such a situation. I hope that this is a start.

I most hope that our prayers and the positive energy that was there reaches Asako!

All the best,



Saturday, October 27th, 2007

7 - 9pm
Cultural Integration Fellowship Ashram (CIF)
2650 Fulton Street @ 3rd Avenue, San Francisco
Suggested ticket prices: $25 and $50 BENEFIT FOR ASAKO TAKAMI
An offering from the Bay Area dance community
Asako Takami is a well-known and loved Odissi Dancer of Japanese descent who has been sharing Odissi dance in the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. She started her training in 1983 with Smt. Kumkum Lal and then with legendary Late Padmavibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. For the past four years, she has been battling cancer, and she has not been able to dance or teach dance for almost a year and a half now. She is in great financial need. ************************

This is a rare and unique dance event celebrating Asako - her teacher from India, the Bay Area Indian dance community and her students uniting together for their love of Asako to provide moral and financial support to her at this time of great need. We request you to come forward and share in our tribute so that your participation and generosity will echo our deepest sentiments. Confirmed Artists:
Kumkum Lal (Odissi, Asako's teacher)
Jyoti Rout (Odissi)
Vishnu Tattva Das (Odissi)
Niharika Mohanty (Odissi)
Charlotte Moraga (Kathak)
Mythili Kumar (Bharatanatyam)
Rasika Kumar, Daughter of Mythili Kumar (Bharatanatyam)
Akshaya Ganesh, Daughter of Indumathy Ganesh (Bharatanatyam)
Ramya and Anjali Kuchibhatla, Senior Students of Shri Krupa Dance Company (Bharatanatyam)
Sonia Mann & Elora Majumdar, Senior Students of Tarangini School of Kathak Dance (Kathak) ************************

Due to limited seating, please purchase tickets in advance.
Those that cannot attend can make donations by emailing
Sangumay Ordona at Please Note:
There is a parking garage in Golden Gate Park at Fulton Street and 10th Avenue
If you live in San Francisco, public transportation may be best.

For advance tickets, please contact:
Bessie Oakley (530...
Masako Ueda (510) 704-9351 For more information or to donate online, please visit:

We express our gratitude to Cultural Integration Fellowship for donating their hall for this event.

10/19/07 UPDATE FROM

"Rachita just mailed in from Bangalore. I hope you like it. Thanks Rini apa, Bessie, Akanksha and Chaitee for the text and photos."

10/17/07 UPDATE FROM Niharika Mohanty

Please forward this message to as many Indian dancers in the Bay Area.

After a couple of weeks of trying to fix the best possible location and date for Asako Takami's benefit for everyone concerned, trying to also see Kumkum Lal's schedule, etc. we have gotten delayed, and so I thought we just need to book right away. For booking Amma's temple on October 28th, we have been waiting upon the coordinators who are currently in Europe with Amma to confirm.

Date: October 27th
Time: 7-9pm
Venue: Cultural Integration Fellowship Ashram (CIF) in San Francisco (2650 Fulton Street @ 3rd Avenue)
CIF is an ideal location in many ways, since late Bina Ji of CIF was a great supporter of Asako's, and Asako has also performed there, and also it is certainly a very spiritual building. Most likely, they will also be donating the hall for Asako, and we can certainly acknowledge our gratitude. The only disadvantage is that the capacity may be around 65-75 with the chairs and cushions that they have.

Suggested donations: $25 and $50? (Please let us know by tomorrow what people think or should we just keep a donation box?)
Also, in NY a non-profit organization is collecting donations, so that contributers could get a tax benefit. Is there any organization that may do that over here?

Please forward this message to other dancers since I think there may be many more who would like to participate for Asako who I don't have email addresses for. I think it makes sense for this program to be an Indian classical dance program and by professionals/senior disciples. Please let me know by Saturday latest for your participation. We hope to webcast this event so that dear Asako will be able to watch it. I will send a list of dancers participating soon.

Mostly Asako's students are helping to bring this event together. Yet, since there is not too much time, we would appreciate all the support possible.

Coordinators: Sangumay and Bessie ( I think it's alright to have you both as coordinators. Please let me know and please take over in defining tasks and emailing this whole group and others to find volunteers)

Publicity Flyers: Shradha, please check with your sister if she may be able to do a publicity flyer right away. She is both an artist and graphic designer and has recently done a nice poster for Darshana Jhaveri's Spic-Macay program at Stanford.
Webcasting: If anyone knows who can webcast this event, please let us know.
Email Publicity: Perhaps Barnali, you may do this. Mayura may also help or anyone else with good experience. Most importantly, we need this done right away.
Overall Publicity: Please I request all to inform your emailing list of this event including dancers, students, connoisseurs of dance, etc.
Tickets and Ticket Sellers: ? Because there is a limited capacity, we may have to have tickets.

Please those of you who have so much experience in organizing programs, please guide us to make this event something so special for Asako!!!
Thank you!

Niharika Mohanty

10/15/07 UPDATE FROM
Niharika Mohanty

Kumkum Didi will be having lec/dems, performances and workshops all this week, on the weekend and on the following week, and is contributing all proceeds to Asako. Please email me if you would like more information about any of these events.

We have a bit of a dilemma for the Benefit date that we have been planning, since we were deciding to postpone the benefit to the Nov 3rd, 4th weekend. I found out that it may be possible to hold the event in Amma's temple on November 4th. However, I just found out that Kumkum Didi has programs on the 2nd and 4th in Utah, and we could either have her here on the 3rd, which is not available in Amma's temple or we go back to planning to have this event on the 28th, when I believe Amma's temple is still available. Gopi, please confirm. Only two weeks would remain. Please let me know what people (of course, involved in this Benefit) think right away, since we really should come to a decision by tomorrow latest. Thank you so much. Kumkum Didi has said the most important thing is to see when we can get the maximum number of people to come out.

10/12/07 Update from Niharika Mohanty:

Proposed Date: Kumkum Didi will be available also on the Nov 3rd, 4th weekend.
Webcast: Ralph has said that it is unlikely that Asako could attend and suggested the idea of a webcast.
Venue Idea: Amma's temple in Castro Valley, which has a stage, good general lighting and sound system, and the fees likely may be waived as a donation to her. Also, the hall is large, and they do webcasting there. Asako has also visited Amma, and so there is certainly a spiritual connection.

I hope that this may be a time that you are able to attend and more importantly for you or your students to participate for this special benefit for our Asako.

I realize this is a very busy time for the whole dance community, but I hope we could work together and really do the best possible for her.

10/7/07 Update:

Many dancers in the Bay Area including Zakir Hussain's wife - Kathak dancer Minnecola, Bharatanatyam dancers Vishal Ramani and Mythili Kumar are trying to Antoniahelp in getting a hall. They are planning on having the benefit on the last weekend of October, so that Kumkum Lal may perform, or perhaps later on, to include some of Asako's students, including her seniormost disciple.

From Niharika Mohanty 10/2/07

Kumkum Lal

"Since we are trying to organize a benefit in the Bay Area during the time that Kumkum Lal, Asako's teacher is here, so that we could be so fortunate to have her participation,
Ralph is hoping to bring Asako as he has said "even for a second". Even the thought of being able to have Asako there even for a short period of time is just making me more determined to make this happen for her so that she could feel some of the love there is for her !

Please Bay area dancers, let's come together for Asako's sake!

Kumkum Didi is definitely here on October 26th, but since that is a Friday, likely we can arrange for her to also be here on Saturday October 27th. I have already requested some of the senior dancers/teachers to try and get a hall for a reduced rate or with hall fees donated to Asako. Then, we can proceed. As the NY dance community is doing, we should also probably have a non-profit organization involved."

Niharika Mohanty can be reached at

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