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Archive: January, 2011

What to Expect on Maharaja Family Sunday

January 28th, 2011

Family Sunday
January 30: Maharaja
12 – 4 pm
FREE with Admission

Come to a special Maharaja FAMILY SUNDAY as we celebrate the Year of India and the Winterlicious Festival! Join us for interactive dance, music, and art activities inspired by the exhibition Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts.

• Enjoy a performance of dance and music by the Toronto Tabla Ensemble
• Take to the dance floor and learn the dance moves!
• Make your own costumery and embellishments
• Watch and participate in a demonstration of Rangoli Floor Art with artist Asha Aditi using spices, grains, mirrors, bottle caps, and more…
• Join in the glittering procession in Walker Court for a grand finale to the afternoon!

About AGO Family Sundays – Last Sunday of Every Month

The much-beloved Family Sundays return!

12 – 4 pm on October 31, November 28, January 30, February 27, March 27, April 24 and our final Sunday on May 29, 2011

AGO Family Sundays are FREE with admission. We’re putting a Gallery-full of FUN into Sundays!

For more information call 416.979.6608

The King’s Salon with inDANCE

January 26th, 2011

Internationally acclaimed for its brilliant, thought-provoking, and entertaining presentations, Toronto-based inDANCE heralds in The King’s Salon, a spectacular performance featuring several dancers, live musicians, and lush costumes, with high energy dancing and innovative choreography. Choreographed for the AGO as part of the Maharaja exhibition, The King’s Salon is a celebration of the aesthetics of courtly love that are at the heart of dance in royal South India in the 18th century.

inDANCE is a Toronto-based South Asian dance company established in 1999 as a vehicle to encompass a range of artistic output: choreography, performance, touring, and teaching. The primary mandate of inDANCE is to form creative partnerships with Canadian and international collaborators, including choreographers, dancers, musicians, designers, scholars and presenters.

The King’s Salon with inDANCE
Saturday, January 29, 1:30 – 2:15pm
Walker Court, Art Gallery of Ontario
Free with admission

What’s on this week: The AGO Maharaja Festival

January 24th, 2011

This is going to be a busy week at the AGO.

You may not know this but 2011 is The Year of India in Canada and, to celebrate, the AGO is hosting its very own Maharaja Festival!

Here’s a highlight of the events taking place between Wednesday, January 26 – Sunday, January 30, 2011. The complete list of events is available here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

  • Sound artist Debashis Sinha performs Shruti, combining video footage and sound recordings from Kolkata, in Walker Court from 6:30-8:30 pm.
  • Sitar player Anwar Kurshid performs in the exhibition gallery between 1:30-6:00 pm.
  • South Asian dance company InDance performs in the exhibition gallery between 6:00-8:00 pm.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

  • Join tours of the Maharaja exhibition exploring trends in fashion, colour, textiles and design at 12:00 pm in Walker Court (also on Saturday and Sunday).
  • Classical dancer Genevieve Beaulieu performs court dances in the exhibition gallery between 1:30-4:30 pm.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011 (Family Sunday)

  • Make Rangoli Floor Art with artist Asha Aditi using spices, grains, mirrors, bottle caps and more as well as other crafts in the Beastly Tales exhibition from 1:00-4:00 pm.
  • Toronto Tabla Ensemble performs at 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm at Walker Court, followed by the chance to learn some cool dance moves.
  • Kids can join their own ‘royal’ procession through Walker Court at 3:00 pm!
  • Classical dancer Genevieve Beaulieu performs court dances in the exhibition gallery between 1:30-4:30 pm.
  • Frank Weber of the Tea Emporium demonstrates tea-making in the Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium from 2:00-4:00 pm.

It is going to be a great week! And remember, the complete list of events is available here.

Bageshree Vaze on the Maharaja Exhibition

January 23rd, 2011

Bageshree Vaze has performed kathak dance, accompanied by her husband Vineet Vyas on tabla, numerous times during the Maharaja exhibition. She shares her thoughts with Jim Shedden, Project Manager of Publications and Special Projects at the AGO.

Performing in the exhibition has been a unique experience for me my husband and me. That’s partly because it’s a museum, of course, but mainly because there’s been an attempt to recreate the experience of performing in the maharaja era, when musicians and dancers were invited to showcase their latest work in the courts.

The audiences have been very interested in the history of the culture. They’re curious and engaged. Indian culture is so vast and diverse that, in our experience, even people of south Asian descent may not know much about Indian classical music and dance. It was never part of the mainstream culture, nor is it today. On the other hand, the transmission of knowledge is so much more fluid these days with the internet that we’re encountering some audience members with a casual knowledge of kathak dance and Indian percussion traditions.

Children respond very well to what we’re doing. Percussion alone usually captivates children, but the dance is also so visual that it’s hard not to be fascinated with it. We love talking to children of all backgrounds because we’re immersed in South Asian culture, but we were born and raised in Canada like so many of the visitors, so we can make connections, bridging the cultures.

Inevitably we’re asked about politics. There’s no getting around it: kathak developed in the context of violent warfare and, today, it reflects of a blend of Hindu and Muslim traditions. What makes it of primary interest today however, is the art, the beauty, of the music, dance and costume. Like all art, it ultimately transcends politics.”

Bageshree Vaze is giving dance demonstrations during Maharaja: the Splendour of India’s Royal Courts. For a detailed schedule of performances, see here.

Tea and Talk

January 21st, 2011

Join us for tea at the AGO!

Tea Demonstration
Join Frank Weber from the Tea Emporium in the Sculpture Atrium on Sunday January 30th, 2011 between 2-4pm. Frank will be sampling two popular Indian teas and providing information about tea in India. Come have a taste and ask questions of this industry expert!

Tea for Two in the Members’ Lounge
Join us in the Norma Ridley Members’ Lounge for Tea for Two from January 22nd – 30th, 2011 from noon until 5pm. For only $25 (plus HST), you and a friend can share a delicious pot of tea along with an assortment of finger sandwiches and pastries with crème fraiche, butter, and a preserve made in-house. This special menu item is limited to members only.

You can also read a brief yet fascinating history of tea here.

Cheryl Wallace, Café Manager, Art Gallery of Ontario

The History of Tea

January 21st, 2011

Tea is the most culturally and economically significant non-alcoholic beverage in the world, after water. Mostly grown in China and India (tea cultivation in India was begun in the 19th century by the British), 98% of teas are black teas created through a fermentation process. Popular in Europe from the 17th century it reached its height of popularity in the 1880s. The tea bag was invented by Thomas Sullivan in 1908 and iced tea became popular after it was served at the St. Louis World Fair of 1904. Tea was considered an appropriate drink for women, as drinking alcohol was not ladylike. The term teetotaling actually meant an abstinence from alcohol.

In the early part of the 19th century, the Boulton family at The Grange and their friends would usually have had two meals—breakfast and an early supper. As the century moved on and men went out to offices to work, a midday meal would have been served and supper would have been much later. Afternoon tea (or low tea) helped fill the gap between lunch and supper. This tea would have consisted of cakes, cookies, and small sandwiches. There are references to Harriet and Goldwin Smith having tea together in The Grange library. High tea, or meat tea, was a much more sustaining meal eaten as an early supper around six in the evening. This is still common in agricultural communities where lunch is the main meal of the day.

If that has whet your appetite for tea, please join us at one of our upcoming tea inspired events.

Jennifer Rieger, Historic Site Coordinator of The Grange, Art Gallery of Ontario

Working on the Maharaja exhibition: Haema Sivanesan

January 21st, 2011

This summer I spoke with Adjunct Curator Stephen Inglis about the process of putting the Maharaja exhibition together. Now that it’s done, I thought it would be a good time to talk with Exhibition Assistant, Haema Sivanesan, who played an integral role in the community consultation process. Her job also included obtaining the loan of the ‘Star of India’ Rolls Royce!

What were your first impressions of the project?

I did have reservations about if this was going to be the first exhibition that the AGO was going to do that looked at Indian art history, whether this was the right framing of such an exhibition. I still wonder about that, just because it looks at a very complex period. But having said that I think, obviously, the response speaks for itself, meaning the critical response. And I think people are incredibly appreciative of the AGO putting on a show like this.

How would you describe your job?

There was the curatorial aspect, the programming aspect, working with the community and working through that feedback, and then the design aspect, working very closely with the designers on the layout and working on the details of that. A lot of it is following up on details and I guess when I say ‘curatorial’ – it’s really about working with the objects. What does this object mean? How does it fit with the thematic of the exhibition? What does it say to people? What does it represent? And how do you physically contextualize it in the space of the gallery?

What percentage of the objects were new to the Toronto show?

70% of the show is new objects. And most of that was brought in by the V&A [where the show originated]. The V&A found loans to replace loans that we weren’t able to obtain. And we supplemented it with Canadian loans.

The elephant and howdah were from the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. The silver carriage wasn’t in the original show [nor was the current Rolls Royce]. In a way, it’s a very different show to what London audiences would have seen.*

Now that it is up, how do you feel?

Tired [laughter]. There are some really, really, incredible pieces in the exhibition and it feels really good. We were worried about how we were going to house so many objects (there are 200+) and accommodate everything that needed to go in  – whether it was text panels or security casing – because you are working at that level of detail through the process. Then to just see it all looking almost seamless – that’s really rewarding. It looks beautiful and I think people are responding really well.

Haema Sivanesan is the Executive Director of SAVAC, the South Asian Visual Arts Centre.

Piali Roy is a Toronto freelance writer with a long-held interest in South Asian culture and history. You can contact her at

[*Ed. note: In the original post, Sivanesan mentioned that the Patiala Necklace was not in the V&A exhibition. Thanks to Asma Mahmood who pointed out that it was on display in London.]

Arvinda’s Spice Blends – Cooking Demonstration

January 20th, 2011

As part of the Maharaja Festival Week, discover Indian flavours with Arvinda Chauhan and her daughter Preena Chauhan as they guide you through the fundamentals of Indian cuisine.

Saturday, January 29th, 1pm – 3pm, in the Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium

Arvinda’s spice blends are derived from time-honoured family recipes, ground into perfumed gems of unparalleled taste and aroma. Roasted, ground and blend in small batches, containing no additives or inexpensive fillers, Arvinda’s spice blends contain only the most fragrant whole spices Nature has to offer – green cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and star anise to name a few.

Arvinda Chauhan’s signature masala blends ingeniously combine key curry ingredients for you to make healthy and delicious Indian dishes. Arvinda’s Cooking Masalas contains at least 50% fresh Ontario organic garlic from a local garlic co-op. Contains no oils, additives or preservatives.

Visit shopAGO to purchase Arvinda’s Masala and Spice Blends, $6.50 per tin, or purchase online here

Sunday Concerts – Eric Jo and Connie Sheng

January 20th, 2011

Sunday Concerts Return!
Sunday Concerts @ the AGO, feature talented students from The Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School. We hope you enjoy these performances, held most Sundays through Spring 2011, from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m in the Atrium.  Our thanks to The Royal Conservatory for bringing beautiful music to extraordinary art at your Art Gallery of Ontario.

Connie Kim-Sheng

Connie Kim-Sheng started piano lessons with her mom at the age of three. She is a recipient of YMF Scholarships and the Mark Ray Memorial Scholarship and in 2005, and was a featured pianist on the NPR radio program “From the Top”. Connie has performed as a soloist with the Rio Hondo Symphony, Verde Valley Sinfonietta, Cal State Northridge Orchestra, and the YMF Debut Orchestra.  Currently, she is in her first year at the Glenn Gould School. She was awarded a full scholarship to study with the eminent Professor, John Perry.

Eric Wonyong Jo

Eric Wonyong Jo made his concerto debut with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra where he played Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19 in F major, K. 459 and he also performed  Muczynski’s Piano Concerto with the Shoal Symphony. He has also actively explored and presented chamber repertoires, including Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Brahms’ F minor sonata for two pianos, Dvořák’s Piano quartet in E-flat major, and Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No.3. With the prestigious Eva Chau and Hilda D. Borman scholarships, Eric is now studying in Toronto at The Glenn Gould School under critically acclaimed teacher Marc Durand.  

Upcoming concerts

Sunday, February 06 – Nicholas King, piano
Sunday, February 13 – Athena Babayan, soprano

Henna Tattooing at shopAGO

January 20th, 2011

Visit shopAGO during the Maharaja Festival and get yourself tattooed with henna!

Tattooing services are available Saturday, January 29th and Sunday, January 30th from 12pm to 4pm in the shop.

Prices range from $5 to $20, based on the size and intricacy of the design selected.