39 Years of Creativity with Janak Khendry
November dance performances in Toronto mark some amazing anniversaries. DanceWorks celebrates its 40th anniversary, ProArteDanza hits 13, Older and Reckless has its 40th incarnation and Janak Khendry Dance Company turns 39.
Janak Khendry is easily one of the warmest and friendliest people in the Toronto dance community. He is a multi-award winner, he has performed over 1000 times all around the world including performances for Indian presidents and an American Vice-President. He has trained in four distinct styles of classical Indian dance: Bharatanatyam, Khatak, Sattriya and Manipuri, and also Cunningham, Graham and Limon styles of western contemporary dance. He also has a Masters Degree in Sculpture and his sculptures have been featured in solo exhibitions and in private collections around the world.
I am honoured to share with you a brief Q and A between us in the lead up to his new work Life Eternal, premiering this week at Fleck Theatre, Harbourfront Centre.
LR: How does it feel to have a 39th anniversary of your company? What are your most proud accomplishments with the company?
JK: It feels very elevated, an achievement, and at the same time, humbling. The most proud accomplishments are the creation and presentation of several very important dance presentations: Panchkalyanaka (from the life of Mahavir), Gayatri, Women Liberated (about women's acceptance in the Buddhist faith), Upanishad, Ganga (the story of the River Ganges), Kaal-Time (the story of Time), John Milton's Paradise Lost and now, Life Eternal.
LR: How do you stay inspired and motivated, especially in times of turmoil, sadness or upheaval?
JK: Dance has been my very life; it keeps me inspired and motivated by thinking of future creations, which happens constantly. The positive thoughts of new creations keep me away from sadness.
LR: How does the theme of your upcoming show reflect your life or your curiosity or preoccupations?
JK: The theme of my current work Life Eternal reflects every human beings desire. We all want to reach the higher level. Forever, the desire for IMMORTALITY has been the greatest yearning of human beings, and I also wrestle with the question.
Almost all forms of life, however old they may grow, eventually die – whether from ageing, disease or physical trauma – and even inanimate objects ultimately decay and break down into their constituent elements. But the idea of living forever has fascinated me since I was a child.
During our time, we have achieved great strides in philosophy and religion, science and technology, and reason and rationality. In all scenarios of progress and problems, life has survived. This concept of the mission of life expands from India’s ancient Vedic times and diversifies through Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. One theme in all these remains the same: the search for immortality in spite of death, a state of life in which Death itself would die.
LR: When you create a new show, what is the path that takes you from the idea to the production? How do you build the choreography and story?
JK: For the creation of my new work, I follow the path of total understanding of the subject thoroughly, intensively researching and living in the theme. The subject is developed step by step. The inspiration of the choreography depends on the subject, the music and the language. I listen to the music for weeks at a time before I choreograph a step, then I begin to write steps on paper. These I transfer to my dancers in the studio.
LR: How do you dream or envision the future of your company? (Let’s hope for another 39 years!!)
JK: I dream of a very bright future for the Janak Khendry Dance Company and to achieve that, I will keep working very hard. My hope is to spread our message around the world as we travel abroad as Indo-Canadian Cultural Ambassadors to propagate the Diversity of Cultures and the Unity of Canadian society.
Janak Khendry Dance Company's world premiere of Life Eternal, a captivating classical Indian dance work featuring 14 dancers that explores Immortality and Freedom
Harbourfront Centre's Fleck Dance Theatre.
Tickets are available by calling the Harbourfront Centre Box Office at 416-973-4000
or visit Janak Khendry Dance Company's website at www.jkdanceco.org
photos courtesy of Janak Khendry Dance Company.