Do you know about Bharatanatyam?
It’s one of nine Indian classical dance forms rooted in storytelling and Carnatic music. Performers express narratives through facial expressions and hand gestures called mudras. The origin of the dance comes from the ancient Natya Shastra, which is a Sanskrit writing about the performing arts that dates to 200 BCE.
This week our community is fortunate to host Rachana Joshi, a professional dance artist skilled in this area of performance, among others. She’s working with award-winning lighting designer Melissa Joakim to complete Joshi’s new performance, Moon Child. This solo explores the mythological and symbolic significance of the moon through Rachana’s practice as a Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer.
On the heels of the global pandemic, Arts Orillia received a competitive grant from Canada Council for the Arts to develop a program that we call Dance&Design. Through a juried process, we invite Ontario-based performance artists into residency at the Orillia Opera House to develop scenic, lighting, costume, and projection design elements for their work. To date, we have supported the development of five dance projects through Dance&Design — four of these choreographies have since premiered in Toronto and two are currently on tour across Canada with stops back in Orillia this coming season.
At Arts Orillia, we believe that dance is an important component of culture. People have danced to celebrate, express, and find joy across cultures since the beginning of civilization. But today, many people are not aware that dance is one of the most underfunded art forms in Canada. Making excellent dance performance is costly because it involves a need for rehearsal space, industry-standard artist fees, and supportive technologies that can only be found in theatres. Because dance doesn’t garner the same high ticket revenue as music and theatre, many dance artists struggle to see their projects come to life. We’re interested in changing this reality by supporting dance artists so that they can contribute to the way audiences experience storytelling.
And whose story is being told? Arts Orillia is committed to broadening the definitions of artistic practice in our region and we’re committed to programming a fair representation to artists of many different racial and cultural identities. In furtherance to these goals, we are fortunate to be working in partnership with our friends at adelheid dance projects through their re:research + design platform. This particular residency is specifically geared to emerging artists who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or artists of colour.
We’re delighted that high school students from Orillia Secondary School, Eastview Secondary School, and Lakehead University’s interdisciplinary studies program will visit the artistic team at the Orillia Opera House to learn more about interdisciplinary performance making and this beautiful performance that is being made right in our city.
And, we would love for you to enjoy an in-process performance demonstration and a chance to meet the creative team for Moon Child. Limited seats are available for an open rehearsal of this amazing work, on Friday, Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 each, or pay what you can. Please visit our website here to reserve your spot. See you at the show.