Recorded: Wednesday, February 23, 7 – 8:30 pm @ Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario
inDANCE artistic director Hari Krishnan presents South Indian courtly dance traditions based on decades of research in remote villages of South India. Weaving live performance by musicians and dancers to images, this talk will integrate movement, voice and text, showcasing courtly motifs.
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
“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.”
The Rina Singha Kathak Dance Organization will be performing at the AGO as part of the exhibition Maharaja: the Splendour of India’s Royal Courts. For the full performance schedule, click here.
The Rina Singha Kathak Dance Organization (RSKDO) was founded by Rina Singha, one of Canada’s premier Kathak dancers. In 1982 Rina Singha founded The Kathak Institute aimed at passing on her Guru Shambhu Maharaj’s legacy with all its elegance, precision and dramatic excellence to others. By 1985 a selected group of senior students became The Kathak Institute Dancers. They were launched with much acclaim, at the Ontario Multicultural Theatre Festival in 1985. Later that year they represented Canada at an International festival in Peurto Rico and the flowing year at major festivals such as Womad and Ontario Place’s Showcase India.
With an invitation from the Premiere Dance Theatre in 1991 to be part of CIBC Dance Season, the name of the group was changed to Rina Singha Kathak Dance Organization. It was incorporated in 1992 as a Non Profit Company with a clear goal of developing innovative performance and audience education initiatives, that would help audience to understand and appreciate both the in depth artistry of Kathak and to encourage upcoming dance professionals.
Kathak dancer Rina Singha was born in Calcutta. While attending university in Hyderabad, she was chosen for a government-sponsored project intended to revive and preserve India’s classical dance styles. She subsequently became a soloist in India’s premier kathak dance company and an internationally acclaimed performer who has toured the world.
In 1960, while Singha was working on her PhD in geography in England, she was asked by esteemed dancer Ram Gopal to become the lead female dancer in his company. Five years later, Singha and her family immigrated to Canada where she worked to improve the understanding of dance traditions from around the world.
To this end, in the 1970s she designed and taught a world dance course at York University and developed Heritage Canada, one of the first multicultural programs for the Toronto public school system. In addition, she created a “Cultural Clues Approach to Learning” program that has been implemented in numerous schools. She has also been involved in creating educational videos for UNICEF.
In the late 1990s, she collaborated with the Music Gallery in Toronto to create the Legacies In Dance festival, which presents and promotes non-Western dance. To increase awareness of kathak dance, Singha founded the Kathak Institute as well as the Rina Singha Dance Organization.
As a dance ethnologist, Singha has researched dance narratives from around the world. As a choreographer, she is noted for blending her Christian faith with her kathak training in works such asYeshu Katha – 4 women tell the story of Jesus (1991).
For the Toronto Star‘s profile of Rina, click here.
Bageshree Vaze will be performing dance demonstrations in the AGO exhibition Maharaja: the Splendour of India’s Royal Courts. For the full performance schedule, click here.
Bageshree Vaze is a versatile and multi-talented Indo-Canadian artist. As a dancer and choreographer, she strives to create and present work that reflects her cultural influences. She was initially trained in the style of Bharatha Natyam in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and also trained in Hindustani (North Indian) classical vocal music with her father, Dr. Damodar Vaze. In 1996, Bageshree began to create dance works that combined her knowledge of South Indian dance and North Indian music, and she explored collaborations between Indian dance and Western forms, such as ballet, modern and West African dance.
In 1998, Bageshree began training in the North Indian classical dance style of Kathak. As this form uses Hindustani music, she was able to relate better to the rhythmic and musical language of this style, and has felt most comfortable choreographing and performing in Kathak. As a result, much of her work in recent years has drawn from the vocabulary of Kathak. Bageshree completed a Master’s degree in Dance from York University in 2000, and her final thesis was a choreography using Kathak language. In 2001, Bageshree also began training with renowned vocalist Veena Sahasrabuddhe, and she released a debut album, Bageshree, which combined Indian classical aesthetics with modern pop music and electronica. Bageshree was named ubbharta sitara (rising star) by MTV India in February 2004.
Bageshree strives to preserve the integrity of traditional dance and music, but to create new work that is reflective of her second-generation experience. Her performances fuse music and dance into one genre, according to principles of Indian aesthetics, rather than seeing them as separate genres, which has been the case in the modern art world. Tabla is an integral component of Kathak dance, and much of her current work is done in collaboration with her husband and tabla artist Vineet Vyas.
Members of inDANCE will be performing dance demonstrations in the upcoming AGO exhibition Maharaja: the Splendour of India’s Royal Courts. For the full schedule of all the dance and music demos, click here. The inDANCE company will also be performing their acclaimed essemble work “The King’s Salon” at the AGO at the end of January so stay tuned!
inDANCE is a Toronto-based South Asian dance company established in 1999 as a vehicle to encompass the entire range of artistic director Hari Krishnan’s creative 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.
In the summer, 2005 issue of Dance International, Michael Crabb wrote: “inDANCE is an irrestibly spirited ensemble…rarely has Bharatanatyam inspired dance seemed so much fun, for performers and audience alike.”