Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Year of Dancing, Collaborations and Memories: Personal Reflections on 2016

2016 has been a year of good memories, spent with loved ones, dance colleagues, and in adventures in dance and music. This was a year that Mike and I decided to stay mostly in Toronto, even while overseas opportunities presented themselves, in order to give it a year in our beloved city, and towards our home studio.

 My year began with the Dance Ontario Dance Weekend 2016 performance with Sampradaya Dance Creations at the Fleck Dance Theatre at Harbourfront Centre.  Gratitude to Sampradaya Dance Creations for working with classical Indian dancers of our generation, and it was delightful to work alongside the wonderful Atri Nundy, Harikrishna S Nair and Reshmi Chhetram towards this performance. This is a photo from us after our performance.

January was also a time of reconnecting and dancing with dance friends. We did a reunion show with The Saucy Tarts, called "Because We CanCan" at Club 120. I loved meeting some of the first founder members of Toronto's first cancan performance company during the course of this journey. I also reconnected with some of Toronto's Living Room Rom friends at "Fireside Chat with Paromita Kar," hosted by LRR at the beautiful Dark Side Studio. What a magical space! I had the pleasure of talking about my travels to Turkey last year for study of Turkish Romani dance.

The end of January took me to St. Johns, Newfoundland, as part of Sampradaya Dance Company's performance at the Friends of India 50th Anniversary Gala. We arrived at St. John's on a snowy day, predicted to also be the date of a major snowstorm, and were shown around some of the beautiful areas of St. John's before the storm hit in the afternoon! Gratitude to our wonderful hosts and all those we met during this was a memorable and enjoyable performance and stay, and ofcourse to Sampradaya Dance Creations.

  These photos show two of the beautiful places we got to see when we were shown around St. John's..the easternmost point of Canada, and lots of ice looking beautiful!  Below is a photo of all of us after the performance.

Photo Credit: Rambinder 'Randy' Cheema

February was a month of artistic collaborations, and Mike and I performed our first Toronto-based live music-dance public collaboration at the Artists Play Cabaret, hosted at Artists Play. 


March was a month full of performances, but the highlight of this month, for me, was the debut of Ensemble Topaz, a joint music-dance venture co-initiated by Mike Anklewicz and myself, and working with music and dances of Turkey, Central Asia, the Balkans, and South Asia.

In April, I had the  honour of presenting my research paper at the Opre Khetanes IV Concert and Conference hosted by the Initiative of Romani Music Conference at New York University. It was a time of learning a great deal from other scholars and artists, and also humbling and renewing experience.  This was also the year that many parts of the conference were livestreamed, and my family was able to watch my presentation and many other presentations remotely through this new and exciting technological feature of the conference. Below is a photo of me during my presentation.

The month of May marked the beginning of wedding season performances. This was also Asian Heritage Month, and Ekakshara Dance Creations performed for several Asian Heritage Month events such as Culturalicious at Richmond Hill and the South Asian Homelands Festival at the Toronto Public Libraries, and finally, the Carassauga India Pavillion.

Wedding season continued into June, and also in the month, I was cast into the Desilive team of live performers at Taste of India at the Taste of Peterborough Festival (also my first time visiting Peterborough).

Photo Credit: Jamie Steel

Highlights of July included the always memorable Kingdom of Osgoode weekend, where Mike and I performed with Troupe Obskurah, for a weekend of performances and everything medieval! 

August highlights include the Ensemble Topaz performance at the CNE International Stage (Canadian National Exhibition), where all of the ensemble members of Topaz performed together. 

Photo Credit: BlameitonMauricio

Photo Credit: BlameitonMauricio 

The month also marked our return to the Toronto International Youth Dance Festival at the Nathan Philips Square. I include below a photo from this event. 

Photo Credit: Hugh Li 

Also, this was the month where I performed as "Saraswati" as part of Irene Cortes's contemporary opera "Gata", a site-specific piece at the Sherbourne Commons at Waterfront. This was also a wonderful time of meeting many incredible artists all involved in the production. 

A fun memory from September is the wonderful Afghan-Canadian celebration at Tamahac Club at Ancaster, which I performed along with the dancers of Ensemble Topaz. 

I also had a wonderful time performing and meeting the wonderful Hamilton region dance community at the monthly "Harem" at The Casbah dance showcase, organized by Eshe Yildiz and Mahasti. What a fabulous monthly dance initiative! 

October was the month of Diwali season performances. It also saw me teaching the Spicy Bollywood Workshop at Oakville's beautiful BellyUp Bellydance Studio. Gratitude to Joharah for having me!

The lunar calendar this year positioned Diwali festivities between the months of October and November, so Diwali performances continued into November. Another unique experience was being the Pop Up Artist at the Aga Khan Museum over a November weekend. I had a chance to perform at several of the beautiful spaces within the museum, such as the Bellerive Room, designed in the style of Persian Salons. 

Performance at Aga Khan Museum lobby. Photo Credit: Sevencontinentsonelifetime 

Performance at the Bellerive Room. Photo Credit: Amin Bhanji

December highlights: On a personal note, this was the month of my wedding! Mike and I tied the knot on December 4, 2016 in an Indo-Jewish wedding celebration attended by our families and friends. 

Our end of the year performances included some corporate Holiday performances, and ofcourse the Ensemble Topaz performance at the Toronto International Dance Festival hosted by Dancing Damsels at the Fleck Dance Theatre at Harbourfront Centre. Including below a photo from this performance. 

Photo Credit: Gary Gu 

It has been a good year, 2016. I leave it feeling much gratitude for all the family, friends, colleagues, and those whom I have around me, and the fortune to work, dance and spend time with!

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