Sep 21, 2015
One of Canada’s leading classical Indian Kathak dancers, Anjali Patil, who lives in Stittsville, danced on the stage at the Shenkman Arts Centre on Centrum Boulevard in Orleans Friday, Sept. 18.
She performed a brand new Kathak dance which she has created. Besides performing, Anjali developed the concept, researched it and has done the choreography. She will be joined in the performance by another solo dancer Sudeshna Maulik as well as by a small group of performers from Montreal.
While Anjali has performed at dance festivals and conferences across Canada, India and the United States, including the Canada Dance Festival, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Kathak Festival and the Pune Festival in India, she says that it is important for her to showcase her work here in Ottawa.
But Anjali has not reached her current status as a performer, choreographer and dance educator of classical Indian Kathak dance without a lot of training and continuing practice and development.
It all began with her when she was four years old and was on a visit to India visiting a relative. While there, she was enrolled in dance class and began training under a respected international dance guru, the late Pandita Rohini Bhate.
She ended up staying in India for eight years before returning to Canada where she practised by herself while returning to India in the summers to work with her dance guru. Eventually she received scholarships and grants to continue with her progress in dance, going back to India for extended periods of training. Once she showed promise as a professional dancer, she trained under the guidance of a different guru Padmabhushan Kumudini Lakhia.
She is now a recognized dancer, choreographer and teacher of classical Indian Kathak dance, leading to her performances at major dance festivals in both Canada and India.
Indeed, she notes that for a Canadian dancer like herself to be invited to perform in India is very rare as there are so many master classical Indian dancers there. She feels that these invitations speak to the quality of her work in dance.
She sees her role in Canada not only as a dancer and performer but also as one who has to showcase the classical Indian dance form and educate Canadians about it. She also gives private and group lessons and finds that there is a lot of interest in Kathak dance in the Ottawa area.
Anjali feels fortunate that she receives support from the city of Ottawa, the Ontario Arts Council and other arts foundations.
She explains that Kathak dance, which is one of several forms of classical Indian dance, is a very dynamic dance form which is well known in India but not so in Canada. It features very speedy footwork, fast spins, graceful movements and “is highly rhythmic.” This strong relationship with rhythm means that the Kathak dancer must perform to intricate musical rhythms, sometimes at different speeds. It is this rhythmic aspect of Kathak dance that makes it more challenging that some other forms of classical Indian dance. It also makes it more physically challenging.
And while Anjali has a future as a choreographer, teacher and promoter of Kathak dance, she wants to continue dancing.
“I’d like to dance as long as I can,” she says.
She regularly goes to India not only to perform but also to do research and work with musicians. She says that she is trying to push the limits of Kathak dance and create new ways of doing things.
It is acknowledged that Anjali’s enchanting stage presence, grace and musicality, combined with her ability to enthrall audiences, has brought her acclaim for her intense, sensitive and elegant Kathak dance presentations.
A Kathak dance performance, like the one coming up this Friday, Sept. 18 at the Shenkman Arts Centre, involves a lot of preparation and work, not only in developing the choreography and dance but also in other aspects like custom-designed costumes, music preparation and costs, studio practice time, creating sets and publicizing the event.
She says that all of this preparation is not cheap which is why support from sponsors and various arts funding organizations is important.
Anjali herself has received various awards including the Chalmers Performing Arts Award and the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute’s Senior Arts Fellowship.
She has been featured in the publication “Canada & South Asia: Partners for the New Century” alongside such notables as filmmaker Deepa Mehta and writer Michael Ondaatje.
She also has been highlighted in “Nartanam,” India’s leading dance magazine. Her work has been shown on TV and she appears regularly on TV and radio stations regarding the classical Indian dance scene.
Anjali’s performance this Friday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Shenkman Arts Centre in Orleans is called “Thumri – Ageless Love” as a story of love inspired the Kathak dance that will be performed.
Kathak dance is one of the eight forms of classical Indian dance, tracing its origins to the nomads of ancient northern India. The structure of a Kathak performance usually follows a progression in tempo from slow to fast, ending with a dramatic climax. It is traditionally a solo dance form.