DanceIntense Artists Showcase 
- Dr Sunil Kothari 
Photos courtesy: Sampradaya Dance Creations, Canada 
August 27, 2009 

In order to give participants of DanceIntense a glimpse into choreographers and master teachers who are also performing dancers, a performance showcase was arranged in the evening for public on 31st July 2009, at the Sandra Faire-Ivan Fecan Theatre, York University, Toronto. 

Odissi exponent Ramli Ibrahim from Malaysia, opened the showcase with his impeccable Ashta Shambhu as taught to him by Guru Deba Prasad Das. Ramli with his arresting stage presence and ability to immerse into the role of Shiva displayed the eight manifestations. The divine acts of Lord Shiva as described in the eight verses were etched distinctly. A versatile artiste, he set the tone for the evening.  

Ramli Ibrahim in Ashta Shambhu 
Andrea Nunn 

The grief of love, meditation as # 5, on loss and desire was the title of the choreographic piece of Andrea Nann. It was interesting to read the prologue of Michael Ondaatje’s novel Anil’s Ghost for the piece: ‘There are no words Anil knows that can describe, even for just herself, the woman’s face. But the grief of love in that shoulder she will not forget, still remembers.’ 

Not that there was word to word correspondence in depiction of the grief through  movement, but Andrea created quite an impact. Using a piece of cloth, she created movements which had perhaps esoteric meaning, but it was employed artistically to convey feeling. A seasoned dancer/choreographer, Andrea Nann had created this work for Theatre Aquarius by the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts, in 2002. It has been her favourite work and seems to draw appreciation from the cognoscenti. 

Sudeshna Maulik in Kathak 

Montreal-based Sudeshna Maulik had her initial training from her childhood in Kathak under Chitresh Das. Later on, she studied at Bharatiya Kala Kendra and then under Birju Maharaj at Kathak Kendra in Delhi and participated in several conferences gaining wide experience. She studied under Kumudini Lakhia to gain further understanding of Kathak, to imbibe the nuances, and imbue it with contemporary sensibilities. To the music composed by Atul Desai, she presented ‘Samanvay,’ literally meaning a coming together of the lyrical and the emphatic movement of Kathak in a seamless manner. 

Her chakkars and footwork had authority. The stance had Kumudini Lakhia’s school, the constume complimented the movements, the padhant, the recitation of mnemonic syllables of Kathak was clear and full of texture. She created a favourable impression winning rounds of applause for the flawless chakkars and clean execution of nritta movements. Canada has now a dancer of merit in Kathak and from whatever one saw on that evening, doubtless Sudeshana is bound to make a name for herself.  

Brian Webb had during the course of the day explained what he does with space. He maintains that a dance score is developed to lead a dancer through improvisation. He loves the choral music of Tchaikovsky, completely different from ballet but powerful and he was one of the first composers to bring the female voice into the tradition. Dancing to complete silence in the beginning and then to the musical score, Brian showed how he improvises and the movements flow with the music. Looking upward when music was played, he seemed to draw spiritual solace. There was simplicity in his approach.  He danced with his glasses on and took them away in the end staring directly at the audience sitting on the floor in complete silence. Very impressive! 

Nova Bhattacharya’s ‘Unspoken’ work was seen at Kalanidhi Fine Arts Festival in January this year. With a prop of a chair on the stage, she danced next to it with movements devised by her to the music of Fur Alina and Alexander Malter. 

It was interesting to watch Karen Kaeja and her 10 year old daughter Mika as they performed a duet significant to their relationship. The playfulness with which they performed displayed the bond they shared, maybe as a mother and a daughter or just two friends. 

Through imagery of a world unique to a woman and her child, pushing the irony of who is in control, they danced with natural ease. Titled ‘No Doubt Behind Us.’ The choreographic piece was the first live stage duet that this mother and daughter pair had created and danced together, winning  the hearts of the audience. Mika was unselfconscious and performed like a professional dancer. The chemistry between mother and daughter helped the piece gain intensity.  

Santosh Nair as Shiva

The finale was ‘Shiva’ by Santosh Nair. It was interesting that the programme began with Ramli Ibrahim’s Ashta Shambhu in Odissi and ended with Santosh Nair’s Shiva in Mayurbhanj Chhau dance form. It offered comparison and contrast. Santosh has a wiry pliable body which falls into various shapes easily and he has tremendous control over his movements, balance and stance and performs with flair. Mayurbhanj Chhau movements come closer to modern dance the way the body is manipulated with leg movements and the use of the torso. Shiva, as conceived in Hindu mythology, has both the static and dynamic iconic forms. He is worshipped in an abstract manner and is not limited to personal characteristics. He transcends all attributes. To depict such a concept through movements is a challenge. Santosh meets the challenge admirably, as does Ramli through the Odissi movements. Both the dancers are vastly gifted and through their dance they bring the icon alive. It was a sheer pleasure to watch these artistes.  

Lata Pada’s Sampradaya Dance Creations has a Kalangan Series in which they regularly feature visiting artistes from abroad, and also present such showcase which gives one an idea of the work being done during the workshops. This series is supported by the Government of Canada, through Arts Presentation Canada.  

The finale was titled Choreography Sharing and was presented at McLean Studio, York University. 

DanceIntense Toronto 2009 at York University 
- Dr. Sunil Kothari    

Dr. Sunil Kothari, dance historian, scholar, author, is a renowned dance critic, having written for The Times of India group of publications for more than 40 years. He is a regular contributor to Dance Magazine, New York. Dr. Kothari is a globetrotter, attending several national, international dance conferences and dance festivals. He has to his credit more than 14 definitive works on Indian classical dance forms. Kothari was a Fulbright Professor and has taught at the Dance Department, New York University; has lectured at several Universities in USA, UK, France, Australia, Indonesia and Japan. He has been Vice President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific (2000-2008) and is Vice President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific India chapter, based in New Delhi. A regular contributor to, Dr Kothari is honored by the President of India with the civil honor of Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi award.