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World renowned Indian dance troupe performs during Multiculturalism Week

Tanusree Shankar Dance Company will make their Canadian debut at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre.


By Janet Harron

March in St. John’s isn’t just about the Irish. Newfoundland and Labrador’s celebration of Multiculturalism Week takes place March 20 - 27 and thanks to Memorial’s Faculty of Arts, the Tanusree Shankar Dance Company will make their Canadian debut at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre on Wednesday, March 23.

“These dancers take centuries-old traditional Indian music, dance, and spirituality and make them global and modern,” said Dr. Patricia Dold who teaches Hinduism in the religious studies department. “Their performance here is a tremendous addition to our celebration of multiculturalism and our appreciation of artistic expression from all over the world.”

Dr. Dold works closely with the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, a binational organization that promotes understanding between India and Canada through academic activities and exchanges, which asked her to organize the event here in St. John’s. Shastri is facilitating the troupe’s Canadian tour which is part of the “Year of India in Canada” celebrations organized by the High Commission of India and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

The 12-person troupe will perform two “dance creation ballets” – “Uddharan” and “Chirantan” – which draw upon Indian classical and folk styles as well as on the traditions of ballet and western dance. Both dances are choreographed by Tanusree Shankar, the company’s founder.

Based on a verse from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gira, Uddharan interprets in the struggle of the human soul in Tanusree Shankar’s unique fusion dance style. Music for the piece was composed by Taufiq Quereshi and Anand Shankar, the late nephew of sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar. Chirantan draws upon the work of Bengali poet Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and his writings on peaceful living, harmony and tolerance.

“This group is a very universal dance group who already have showcased their talent and left their charismatic mark in the world of performing art. They have performed in many different countries and this is our chance to get a glimpse of these talents,” said St. John’s Sanchita Chakroborty, whose own multicultural dance society, Bollywood Jig, will open the evening’s performance.

Tickets are $20 ($10 for students and seniors) and can be purchased at the theatre box office or by calling 729-3900.