What My Teacher Taught Me: Janaki Patrik

The Kathak Ensemble & Friends perform First Prayer of My Elders. Photo by Darial Sneed, courtesy of The Kathak Ensemble & Friends

In the 1970s, Janaki Patrik, artistic director of The Kathak Ensemble & Friends, studied with Merce Cunningham in New York City. She remembers the subtle way he would give a correction.

“I loved the technique. It was pure and spare, but when he taught the class, it was electric. To make a correction, he might just very lightly touch a body part. He didn't talk a lot, but you knew that because he had touched you, 'Oh that part needs a lot of attention! Why did he touch it?' And it made you think critically."


Merce Cunningham was an American choreographer known for his avant-garde compositional methods and approach to the music-dance relationship. He formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1953, which he ran until his death in 2009.

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