Live at the Kisanii Hub
Discover Dance featuring Nova Dance
Friday, July 15th and Saturday, July 16th
David Crombie Park
This special edition of Discover Dance featured award-winning artist Nova Bhattacharya. Discover Dance is a free, all-ages series that highlights many of Toronto’s incredible dance artists and is co-presented by TO Live and Nova Dance.
With Nova, we discussed the personal and dynamic elements of dance and the process of artistic creation, with a focus on Nova Dance new piece; "Svāhā!". Together, we will explore the themes of intersection, identity and hybridity.
Audiences were invited for a deep dive into South Asian culture with music by Gurtej Hunjan, Carson Freeman, and Davison Elie, dance workshops with Neena Jayarajan and Sukruti Tirupattur, talks led by host Dainty Smith, and henna with Sonia's Henna Art
A series of beautiful afternoon in the park, dancing together, listening, discovering, growing and sharing. We are grateful
Host: Dainty Smith
Performers & Facilitators: Nova Bhattacharya,
Sukruti Tirupattur, Neena Jayarajan
Music: Gurtej Hunjan
Henna Artist: Sonia Sumaira
Event Photographer: Jae Yang
Event Videographer: Recro Digital Marketing
Jamii Team: Hadeal Karrar, Iris Unlu, Isorine Marc,
Maysam Abu Khreibeh, Nadifa Daud Mohamed, Yusra Yacout
With the support of Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, City of Toronto ArtworxTO
"Live at The Kisanii Hub: Discover Dance featuring Nova Dance" on Media
Reframing grief through moments of dance
Author: Raji Kaur Aujla
It was Frida Kahlo who once wrote, “I do not think that the banks of a river suffer because they let the river flow.” There are dozens of quotes pulled from different essays that are scribbled on post-its around my office. I often look at this one and contemplate why we aren’t more like river banks. It feels rare for human bodies to flow in such a state, allowing experiences to happen without imprinting our bodies with the weight of memories and emotions, mostly grief.
I find myself thinking about this a lot. Majority of our waking hours consist of doing the things that we may not actually enjoy. Writing emails, sitting in unproductive meetings, small talk, contemplating memes, etc. Years can go by without us taking a moment to reflect on our state of being.
An active pursuit to resist this has been to learn how to live in my body rather than my mind. So when Isorine Marc programmed Discover Dance last week, a collaborative experience between TOLive, Nova Dance, and Jamii, it influenced an uncharacteristic instinctual response from me. I took a break from my desk during lunch and rode my Nishiki down to David Crombie park. By the time I found an umbrella to sit under, Nova Bhattacharya was in namaskaram. She bowed and asked the Earth Mother for permission and forgiveness before beginning to dance atop Her soil. It was a beautiful introduction to a journey the dancers and audience embarked upon together.
Nova humanizes Earth through relational connectedness seldom considered. She co-exists in a state of oneness that I’ve been silently working towards, embodying humans and nonhumans, especially the mythological beings ranging from Brahma to Sarasvati, that allow her to transcend the human form. “As a racialized person moving through the world, I carry all of myself in performance, holding both pain and pleasure in my body. The act of dancing makes me feel better.”
Sukruti Tirupattur and Neena Jayarajan joined her in a Bharatanatyam dance. They floated with one another when the drums sounded. The way they gracefully moved each muscle of their hands, as if slowly untethering all of the grief from our bodies. I no longer thought about the heaviness of the work I do in reforming colonial movements as a brown woman. I felt the bliss of silence in my body. “All art is political but our human presence transcends that.” Nova speaks about making the personal universal by being steeped in oneness despite walking through life as a woman of colour herself. She is one with the universe and puts her human costume on only when required.
The truth is we experience the beauty of rivers without acknowledging the erosion that created the banks to begin with. Frida’s quote doesn’t reflect this phase of that natural creation. Destruction and creation happen in natural flow with one another. My writing would have traditionally remarked the dispositions of my own body and soul more than that of the dancer’s movement in front of me. But that afternoon, I flowed downriver and consciously oscillated between giving less significance to my gaze and more presence to the collective energies of the community at the park. Less in my thoughts and more in my body, I felt each movement of the dancers’ bodies, earnestly detangling before shapeshifting grief to beauty. It was beautiful.
Photos by Jae Yang
July 24th, 2019
1st edition of Discover Dance in David Crombie Park:
About 100 people joined us in the park on July 24th 2019 to discover and continue learning about Indian Classical Dance with dancer & choreographer Neena Jayarajan, a trained artist in Bharatanatyam. The event was in partnership with TO Live (Sony Center in 2019), as part of the Discover Dance series that feature some of Toronto’s incredible dance artists, curated by Nova Bhattacharya.
Find our more about Discover Dance programming here.
Photos: Isorine Marc