About This Episode

Upaj (Hindi). Improvise. From director Hoku Uchiyama, Upaj:Improvise explores the birth and journey of India Jazz Suites, a phenomenal East-meets-West collaboration featuring Indian Kathak master/guru Pandit Chitresh Das and tap star Jason Samuels Smith. 62-year-old Das exemplifies the elegance and mathematical precision of Kathak, a classical, storytelling dance of North India. Jason, a 28-year-old African-American tap dancer, hails from the freestyle, streetwise American tradition of contemporary tap.

When the two join forces, an unlikely friendship develops bridging continents, generations, cultures and communities. Along the way, Das and Smith’s personal stories unfold - ones wrought with loss, struggle and perseverance. As the artists tell truths and come to terms with demons, they show us that our struggles are worthwhile with Upaj:Improvise paving the way for hope and redemption.

Upaj:Improvise is co-presented by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).