Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Adventures in Music and Dance II: Ensemble Topaz

It has been six months into the adventure called Ensemble Topaz, an integrated music-dance project jointly co-led by myself and musician/composer Mike Anklewicz, and tomorrow we perform at the CNE International Stage. Earlier this year, I had written a post titled "New Adventures in Music and Dance", in which I had mentioned that this year would be a signal year marking collaborative work between Mike and myself. The post was written a few days before our performance at Artist's Play Cabaret, where we performed a music-dance collaboration drawing on Indo-Central Asian dance aesthetics, as well as Mike's improvisations drawing from his background in jazz and klezmer as well as drawing on some of his study of Turkish scales in Istanbul last year with Okan Cakmak.

About a month after this February performance, we brought together the first version of Ensemble Topaz, which performed at The Tranzac, where I performed as soloist to some of the songs played by live the band. I also accompanied on zills to a few of the songs, sitting in with the band, as opposed to dancing. I am sharing here a few photographs from this first performance, taken by Ken Dobb.

From there the Ensemble expanded; as choreographer, I invited two  dancers, Stephanie Stella and Angelica Marrett, both of whom I have danced with previously in different ensembles- I first met the both of them when they joined The Saucy Tarts, Toronto's very own troupe of high-kicking cancan dancers. I had also had them both in some of my other dancing ensembles, including Ekakshara Dance Creations and Dilan Dance Company. The dancers of Ensemble Topaz then went on to perform some more events, private, corporate and public. 

This is a photo of us taken after our performance at a lovely wedding at Centennial Hall, at Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex within the CNE grounds earlier this month. 

Among our repertoire is songs choreographed to the original music compositions of Mike Anklewicz from the KlezFactor album "Europa", released earlier in July this year, and this was one of the events where we danced to the fun song "Vibrations" from this album! (For more information about KlezFactor "Europa", please visit http://klezfactor.com/klezfactor-europa/) We will also be featuring "Vibrations" among our set at the CNE, as well as some more work from KlezFactor "Europa". In the meantime, the musicians of Ensemble Topaz also played a special performance at the Klezmer brunch at the FreeTimes Cafe in downtown Toronto. 

As choreographer and dancer, this shall be an interesting time for me. The repertoire for this set has been choreographed in different international cities. The set  features a dance for which I had initially conceptualized the choreography in the hotel rooms in Berlin last year, during the beginning of the KlezFactor Europe tour. 

Another of the dances, "Cosmo Alex", also an original song from KlezFactor's "Europa", was choreographed in Toronto and Netherlands last year, for performance during the earlier half of our Europe tour last year. It had both its danced and musical performance debut at the beautiful Decinska Synagogue in Decin in Czech Republic, where we performed at the Lenka Lichtenberg and Friends Concert with the beautiful Lenka. This piece too had initially been created and performed as a solo. Subsequently, Mike and I performed duet versions of this piece in a few other places, both within and outside Canada. The piece was first reworked as a duet for Angelica and I for our performance at the Global Village Festival earlier this year, and then eventually was reworked as a trio featuring all three of the  Ensemble Topaz dancers and will be performed tomorrow at the CNE set as a trio. 

Fun times and looking forward to tomorrow! 

For more fun and dance adventures, join me at the Afghan-Tajik Pop Choreography and Spicy Bollywood Dance Workshops at BellyUp Oakville on October 23! For details, information and registration, please visit: https://bellyup.ca/?q=oakville/workshops/paromita-kar-workshops-bollywood-afghan-tajik-pop

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