For my final feature covering the CanAsian Dance Festival of 2015, I am lucky again in getting to interview another great of Canadian dance, Lata Pada. Her career is vast and varied, her work personal and universal in its storytelling. Vivarta, Lata's work for her company, Sampradaya Dance Creations, will be part of this year's festival.
Lata Pada photo by Onward & Upward photography
LR: How do you begin creating? What is it like in the studio at the start of a process?
LP: Ideas for a new work come sometimes out of nowhere; a phrase from a song, a personal turning point, reflections on life. Even though the ideas have been percolating in the head for over several years and start taking shape for a new work, collaborators contacted, discussions had, outlines formed, when one gets into the studio, it is a terrifying experience.
Where and how to start is the most traumatic feeling I am confronted with. For me, the most intuitive and important starting place is the music, I work much by instinct and don’t really have diagrams or choreographic notes. Listening to it continuously the images start forming and I jot them down. They are only impressions at that point, bound to change and be transformed.
The first day in the studio, I spend the first day with the dancers, and we talk, talk and talk, about life, personal and artistic experiences. As a choreographer, I take in what makes them ‘tick’ and then I get a sense of what shapes them as interpreters. The early part of the choreographic journey is many days in the studio, listening, talking, allowing the music to move the dancers and taking notes.
Sampradaya Dance Creations in Prayoga
photo by Onward & Upward Photography
LR: How do you weave your contemporary view into the classical form?
LP: For me the classical form is always contemporary. It has through time evolved, continues to evolve and has endless potential to be revitalized and shaped into a modern idiom of expression. For me, it is always about the ‘here and now’ and that is where I situate my dance.
Sampradaya Dance Creations on Prayoga
photo by Onward & Upward Photography
LR: You are involved in so many aspects of arts and culture, the TAC, the ROM, CDA, York, Centennial College as well as your own company and school, do you have a favourite hat to wear?
LP: I am happiest when I am in class, teaching. There is such joy in seeing one single movement being expressed with courage and honesty. Everyday in class, there is always an ‘ah -ha’ moment for me, when a student has, unknowingly, just taught me something about dance, that I had not discovered before.
Sampradaya Dance Creations in Vivarta
photo by Sanjay Ramachandran
LR: What keeps you motivated and inspired?
LP: Curiosity about life and an innate need to transform the personal into the universal.
LR: Could you tell me about one piece of choreography or performance that changed you and/or your approach to making art? Who was it, where, when, why did it move you?
LP: Revealed By Fire, that premiered in 2001 on International Women’s Day is a work that was seminal, both in my personal and artistic life. An autobiographical work that told of loss and renewal, following the 1985 Air India terrorist bombing that took the lives of my husband and two daughters, this production was a journey into the unknown. I was confronted with many questions, many fears. How do I tell my story of such unspeakable grief in a way that makes it accessible to all audiences? How do I bare my soul in the telling of this story? Is it appropriate as a work for the stage? Revealed By Fire was essentially about a return to wholeness through dance and the impact of its transformative power on my life.