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an epic love story from ancient India

Gateway Dance Theatre was proud to bring back its innovative production, Shakuntala, by Kalidasa, as part of the celebrations of their 50th anniversary. Shakuntala tells the story of a young woman, Shakuntala, who is raised in a secluded abbey and falls in love with a monarch, King Dushyanta, whom she meets in the forest. This classic Indian play was written in the 5th Century CE by Kalidasa, who is regarded as the greatest Sanskrit poet and dramatist. Shakuntala is considered his masterpiece. 


Shakuntala is a perfect example of GDT’s vision, which aims at integrating and enhancing the arts across Iowa. The organization seeks to advance an art movement in Iowa that encompasses global cultures and supports the sharing of resources and experiences among all communities.

The play was presented on the 9th of July 2022 in collaboration and generously hosted by the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4114 Allison Avenue, Des Moines.

GDT would like to share their heartfelt gratitude with Iowa Arts Council and Bravo for giving them the arts grant this year, as without that it would have been impossible to bring this production to life. So, thank you very much! 

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Sarmishtha Sarkar

Guest Artist, Choreographer

Sarmishtha is a renowned classical & folk dancer, choreographer, teacher, and creative director of Aavirbhaav School of Creative Arts, Ahmedabad, India. GDT is honored to have had a collaboration with Sarmishta Sarkar for the last many years that produced thematic ballets “Water is Life", "Peace in the Heart", and "Tapestry". This production of Shakuntala is the realization of a dream that originated during those years of collaboration.

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Penny Furgerson

Artistic Director, Producer

In GDT’s 50th year, Penny brings back the magical tale to the stage of Des Moines with a cast of the most diverse cultural backgrounds! They worked and learned together and brought the best version of Shakuntala to the theatre scene of Des Moines. The play was infused with many Indian dances to set the mood and add exotic elegance to the theme.The cast and the story both resonate with Penny's vision of working with diverse cultures as is the mission of GDT.

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Sydney Furgerson

Stage Manager, Project and Program Coordinator, GDT

Sydney Furgerson was the stage manager for Shakuntala. Being Penny Furgerson's granddaughter, she grew up in the studios of Gateway Dance Theatre. She is trained in Bharatnatyam and has been in several of GDT's productions, including the original cast of Shakuntala in 2016. She has been a teacher over the years at GDT and continues to teach the World Rhythms class. She has joined the GDT crew as the Program and Project coordinator since 2020 and plans to take her grandparents' legacy forward in the community. Sydney is trained in culinary skills and is also our "chief cookie baker"! 
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Our Special thanks to our Production team

Sound & Lighting : Bryan Northcott

Sound Assistant: Laura Burdette

Stage and Backstage Crew: Sydney Furgerson, Vinanti Mistry, Hema Sharma, Sarmishtha Sarkar, Seygbai Kai, Chitra Pulliadi

Costumes & set design: Sarmishtha Sarkar, Penny Furgerson, Sydney Furgerson

Photography: Eric Salmon
Videographer: Matthew Nnana
Poster Design: Connie Wlson Creative

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