Indo-Canadian classical dance choreographer Sudha Khandwani passed away a few months back in Mumbai and it is in her memory that the Kalanidhi Dance Academy, the institution that she founded, and the Menaka Thakkar Dance Academy are organizing the 16th annual Kalanidhi International Festival of Indian dance titled “Whirling Streams” that opens at Toronto’s prestigious Fleck Dance Theatre on March 28.

Over 40 artists from Canada, US, India, etc. are going to participate to showcase various Indian classical dances, including Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Chhau, and modern over the course of six days.


In an interview with The Indian Diaspora, Prof. Rasesh Thakkar, who’s now at the head of the Kalanidhi Dance Academy, said the event was planned for October last year when his sister Sudha was still alive.


“We are now holding it this month knowing full well that Sudha is no more with us, yet she’s with us in spirit,” he said. He was all excited as their use of the latest technology, which’s live streaming on the internet, will help enable people, art lovers, to see all recitals/demonstrations live from all over the world.


Menaka Thakkar, who sits at the head of Menaka Thakkar Dance Academy, co-sponsor of the festival, is recipient of Governor-General’s Lifetime Achievement award for dance in 2013. She was the first non-Western dancer to receive it. Many non-Indo-Canadians, who had not seen her dance presentations, wanted to see that and that’s how she and Kalanidhi joined hands in the use of internet for live streaming of all their performances and presentations, Thakkar explained.


“There are 20-people, 30-people dance groups and they are highly acclaimed but are based in the interiors of India, somewhere in Europe. It is very expensive to bring them to Toronto and many a times, despite its cost, the group members are unable to make it for the festival. The internet technology is now the tool that we are using – their live streaming from wherever they are based,” he explained.


“But the Canada Council, sponsors of many of our activities, doesn’t allow this. The artists have to be physically present and performing on stage here.”


During the forthcoming festival, there will also be panel discussions on the richness of the Indian classical dance. There are two schools of thought – contemporary aspects of the Indian dance and richness of the Indian traditional dance, like the “glory of the traditional Kathak and its various aspects, various aspects of the Indian classical dance forms, etc,” said Thakkar.

The opening of the festival will be dedicated to Sudha Khandwani, with Bharatnatyam solo prayer invocation by Menaka Thakkar, his other sister. Other artists will include Nivedha Ramalingam, Sujata Mohapatra who will present Karna Kunti Abhinaya solo dance drama; Santosh Nair Sadhya Dance (New Delhi)and Mayurbhanj Chhau and Kathakali Encore


(Ajit Jain can be contacted ajit.jain0410@gmail.com)


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