Falguni Pathak | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Falguni Pathak 

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Of the estimated 125,000 Indian immigrants living in the Chicago area, approximately half hail from the western state of Gujarat. To celebrate the autumn Hindu festivals of Navratri and Dussehra, Gujaratis perform a dandiya raas, or "dance of swords," in which actors use wooden sticks to re-create the battle between goddess Durga and demon Mahishasura. The dance is generally performed to upbeat folk music dominated by traditional percussion instruments like the dhol, but Falguni Pathak has become India's "dandiya queen" by adding Western instruments. She and her band, Ta-Thaiya, perform both dandiya music and pop songs, a mix that has attracted massive crowds to her live shows in Mumbai. Pathak's sweet, lilting voice sometimes gets less attention than her short hair and masculine attire, a look that has made her an icon in India's growing gay community. But though her pop songs explore romantic themes, she tends to brush off direct questions about her sexuality. "I feel people are more intrigued because there is a vast contrast between my feminine voice and boyish dressing," she told one reporter. She'll perform with Ta-Thaiya at this show, which like all her dandiya events is part concert, part dance party. a 8 PM, Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center, 1551 Thoreau Dr., Schaumburg, 773-338-0292, $20 in advance, $25 at the door. A

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