Pushing Boundaries in Indian Dance

The world of classical Indian dance is less traditional than you might have thought. There are some misconceptions about kathak, a form of classical Indian dance that’s been around since before the sixteenth century. It’s natural to associate the words “traditional” or “classical” with something that evolves at a snail’s pace, but talking last week with Kathak dancer and choreographer Bageshree Vaze, who’s bringing a performance called Paratopia to the Harbourfront Centre Theatre this week provided some schooling on the topic. Bagashree argues that there are many false impressions about Indian kathak dance being a static or immovable art form when it’s actually evolved into something innovative and distinctly modern. She laid out a bit of its history:

Paratopia is the word that sets the tone of the performance, a term Bageshree expanded on from an article she once read. It has to do with the idea of creating a separate and distinct space. In this case, the historical art form of kathak now exists in a very different space than the one in which it originated:

So what does this “other space” include? Well, you’re not only going to see the customary footwork and hand gestures of kathak plus the tabla drum played by Vineet Vyas – that’s the Northern Indian drum that habitually sets the beat for kathak dance. But you’ll also hear beatboxing by Killabeatz, Bageshree’s own music, and see contemporary hiphop dancers who don’t come from the classical Indian tradition. There’s even some inspiration from The Matrix trilogy, which as it turns out has something in common with kathak:

This is set to be a dynamic and boundary-pushing performance. You can check Paratopia out at Harbourfront Centre Theatre from Thursday until Saturday – go to harbourfrontcentre.com for tickets.