A recognition and a resurrection

The man who sits tied to a wooden chair under a harsh light speaks the words of the doomed, the cocksure talk of one who boasts of his crimes to suppress his own fear. He sits on the third tier of a wooden platform, presented to us, like a sacrifice. He is surrounded by 23 thickly braided ropes hanging in the darkness. “I raped 23 girls. . .I don’t care for the world much . . . I didn’t mind killing . . . I don’t know why.”

This is Stetko. In the original productions of Colleen Wagner’s 1995 play The Monument, he was a universal soldier-rapist, inspired by the playwright’s shock and outrage at the many civil wars, the ethnic-cleansing and the rape and killing of women and girls at the hands of armed combatants.

Restaged by director Jani Lauzon in the context of the thousands of Canadian missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, The Monument takes on a new immediacy and urgency and opens up a space for accountability, a resurrection of the forgotten and nameless victims and an opportunity for reconciliation.

In this production Stetko refers to himself as a gang member. After a few minutes of his manic confessional, a figure emerges from the shadows. This is Merja, dressed like the female prison camp commandant in Lina Wertmueller’s Seven Beauties. Stetko takes her for his executioner. But, Merja announces, “I’m your saviour. You have to do everything I say, you must obey me for the rest of your life.”

From this point on the two characters inhabit a conceptual space, in which both must travel to a new understanding of what kind of healing, if any, is possible. Tamara Podemski’s Merja is fierce; she seeks revenge, harm, power over Stetko, who becomes her slave and is treated like a dog, humiliated and tortured with reports of his own girlfriend’s rape and murder. Augusto Bitter’s Stetko learns abasement, is offered a rabbit to give him something to care for until it is cruelly removed. He faces his own crimes: “It’s easy to hate and it’s easy to kill if you hate enough,” he says

Merja finds that none of this assuages her pain; she takes Stetko, whom she calls Stinko, to the forest to unearth his victims, the ropes are lowered, festooned with red ribbons to represent the brutality of their deaths.

The language of the play is not profound and Stetko’s repeated references to obeying a soldier’s orders don’t make sense in the new context, but it is not the text that makes Monument worth seeing. The play works on a symbolic level, asking the question if these missing and murdered women could speak what would they say? Podemski’s powerful performance gives the answer: demand their humanity and be recognized for the daughters, mothers, sisters that they were — loved and cherished and put in harm’s way through no fault of their own.

The Monument

By Colleen Wagner

Directed by Jani Lauzon

Set designed by Elahe Marjovi

Lighting design by Louise Guinand

At Factory Theatre, Toronto, until April 1

Photo of Tamara Podemski and Augusto Bitter by Joseph Michael

A thrilling spectacle to stir the heart

The Sleeping Beauty, jewel in the crown of the National Ballet of Canada’s classical repertoire, boasts more bravura dancing per square meter per minute than one could ever hope for in any other ballet. Not to mention enough brocade, velvet, feathers, ermine and sparkling jewels to furnish a Liberace concert.

Sumptuous visually, musically and balletically, the Tchaikovsky/Petipa grand ballet, first performed in the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in 1890, is the ultimate showcase for the highly accomplished classical ballet dancer. In 2006, artistic director Karen Kain restaged Rudolf Nureyev’s opulent 1972 production for the company with refurbished set and costumes; The Sleeping Beauty made the company’s spectacular entrance on to the stage of the newly opened Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. At the same time Kain upped the ante for the dancers, giving the audience a continuous round of high-octane, dazzling variations en pointe and en aire.

Yet drama is not sacrificed to athletic spectacle. Ivan Vsevolozhsky’s libretto provided Tchaikovsky with a poetic interpretation of the Charles Perrault fairy tale, inspiring the composer to create what he considered one of his best works, meticulously crafted and arranged to express in dance the powerful themes of the conquering power of love over hatred and envy, innocence and joy over corruption and power-mongering. (Vsevolozhsky also specified the ballet be set in the opulent – to the point of decadent — Versailles court of Louis the XIV.)

In 1890  Marius Petipa placed Princess Aurora at the centre of the ballet, to present the virtuosity of the Italian prima ballerina Carlotta Brianza. When Nureyev choreographed his production of The Sleeping Beauty, he created a more elaborate role for Prince Florimund, inserting himself as the melancholy prince prominently into Act II. But the central storyline remains that of Aurora, whose transformation from 16-year-old innocent full of joy, through ethereal, romantic ideal in the vision the Lilac Fairy presents to the prince, to mature womanhood constitutes the drama of the ballet.

Heather Ogden’s Aurora makes this fairy tale journey come true, in her spirited embodiment of a girl’s blossoming as if lit from within. She is sublime in the famous Rose Adagio, when the princess is presented to her four suitors (gallant Félix Paquet, Nan Wang, Peng-Fei Jiang and Ben Rudisin), balancing elegantly on the tip of one pointe shoe for the culminating moment, like Botticelli’s Venus Rising.

Guillaume Côté, once out of his velvet jacket and over-the-knee boots, which seem dated and too preening for the romantic hero Prince Florimund, arrives with such attack he seems to fly across the stage in his Act II solo. He and Ogden make a formidable pair in the grand pas de deux, the culmination of many fine set pieces —

including the diamond pas de cinq in Act III performed by Chelsy Meiss and Diamond Man Jack Bertinshaw — rising on rounds of applause in the balletic expression of a rebirth after a century’s journey into the darkness.

The performance of the Variations in Act I are no mere warm-up for the grand pas de deux to come. Hannah Fischer is particularly brilliant in the solo First Variation, but all six performances are stand-outs, highlighting the beauty and the symmetry that brings order amidst the chaos sown by Carabosse with her evil curse to eliminate Aurora and bring down the kingdom. Alejandra Perez-Gomez’s Carabosse is a deeply malevolent force, close to the ground and pagan, pitted against Taya Howard’s radiant Lilac Fairy who floats across the stage as she casts her spell to put the court to sleep for a hundred years.

Jonathan Renna brings a delightful curve of the calf to the dancing he’s afforded as King Florestan to Sophie Letendre’s Queen.

This production preserves the high-camp elements that, along with the pussycats in Act III bring an element of comic relief in the form of outlandish headgear, overly abundant male wigs and the over-the-top evil obsequy of Carabosse’s slimy attendants and the caricature witches, who preside over the birthday party like a black cloud. Such details are reminders of what happens in worldly realms when excess and inward-looking vanity leaves room for rot to set in. And they set off the grace and joy expressed in the many-splendored, stiffly tutued, flawless ensemble dances, such as that of the maids of honour and their pages, that take us through scene by scene in this thrilling feast of a ballet.

The Sleeping Beauty

Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Produced by Rudolf Nureyev after Marius Petipa

Staged by Karen Kain and the artistic staff of the National Ballet of Canada

Set and costume design by Nicholas Georgiadis

At the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, through March 18

Photo of Heather Ogden and Guillaume Côté by Bruce Zinger.







Made in Canada a mixed blessing

You have to wonder whether the choice of “made in Canada” as the selection criterion for the National Ballet of Canada’s mixed program was somehow forced upon the company. For this homegrown program is decidedly mixed and not entirely in a good way.

Toronto-born Robert Binet, choreographic associate at NBoC since 2013, has in a short time created an impressive number of works for the company and for several European companies including the Royal Ballet. The Dreamers Ever Leave You, a co-production of the ballet and the Art Gallery of Ontario, was created in 2016 as a response to the exhibition The Idea of North: Paintings by Lawren S. Harris as a piece of “immersive dance.” In other words, while the dancers performed, presumably in close proximity to the paintings and the piano on which composer Lubomyr Melnyk played his trademark Continuous Music, the audience members were free to move around observing the dancers up-close and personal. But transferred to the huge Four Seasons stage and seen from a great distance, the pianist in the pit, Dreamers leaves its audience behind. In place of the changing perspective afforded by the viewers walking about the dancers, we get slowly moving, sometimes obscuring abstract panels, stand-ins for Harris’s arctic mountain peaks, and some chilly shifting lighting. Melnyk’s rapid and difficult sequences (in the 70s in Paris he composed music for modern dance) bears no apparent relationship to the choreography and comes off as monotonous, lulling us into indifference. Were it not for the staging, we might well have appreciated much more the outstanding performers in this piece, among them Hannah Fischer, Heather Ogden and Harrison James.

Particularly well made in Canada might be the headline for James Kudelka’s The Four Seasons, first performed in 1997 and often restaged but never failing to excite. The 45-minute piece became the signature dance for Rex Harrington on whom Kudelka created the role of A Man, placing him at the centre of the Vivaldi composition (1720-23) inspired by the landscape paintings of Marco Ricci. The sublime four violin concerti, with their accompanying sonnets in tribute to the spirit of the seasons, have attracted quite a few choreographers. But Kudelka’s genius is in matching the intricacy of the music with very complicated steps and partnering while turning up the passion and the drama of a man for all seasons — in the stages of love, in maturity and finally dogged by Death. Guillaume Cote here achieves the balance of emotion and technical mastery required in the role of A Man. Jillian Vanstone is spritely as Spring and Greta Hodgkinson somehow sexy, sultry and majestic all at once as A Man’s Summer partner. Xiao Nan Yu in Winter is similarly a strong presence, in the role of accomplice to the other side, with the promise of rebirth contained in the achingly beautiful music. The inspired costumes designed by TRAC, adding layers to the dancers with the passing of the seasons, are integral to the drama, as is the extraordinary lighting design of David Finn, bathing the dancers in rich projections of ever-changing shades of green, red, yellow and blue.

Emergence, the 30-minute dance that closes the mixed program, is a piece commissioned by NBoC from Vancouver-based choreographer of well-earned renown Crystal Pite in 2009, relatively early in her career. Pite took a scientific approach to the challenge of creating work on the hierarchy of a ballet company. As she said at the time, “I wanted to look for a parallel in nature, at a hierarchical structure that creates amazing complex structures.” Looking at beehives, ostensibly a top-down structure ordered by the Queen, she discovered the swarm – the hivemind — an intelligent being that operates on a complex system of consensus-building. Which is what we see in the powerful ensemble dancing of nearly 40 dancers, the women dressed in black-widow leotards for needle-like point work and the men bare-chested with powerful legs and arms like enlarged, menacing insects with a common purpose. Owen Belton’s soundscape of electronic high-pitched humming, marching sounds and cricket-like communication gives shape to the swarm that emerges – a collective unconscious that operates like a secret language. Seen in the light of Pite’s more recent work for her company Kidd Pivot, Emergence appears underdeveloped; she had only a short time to create the piece. But its revival serves as a taste for better things to come, as Pite will create a full-length piece for the National Ballet’s 2019-2020 season, something to be richly anticipated.

Made in Canada

Mixed program of the National Ballet of Canada

At the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, through March 4

Artists of the Ballet in Emergence; photo by Bruce Zinger.

A dancey, entrancing Dream

A barefoot Midsummer Night’s Dream from the Chekhov Collective is more akin to dance and performance art than to conventional theatre. But this show’s cast, adept at physical expression, are also well-trained in Elizabethan utterance and wring new meaning from the comedy’s lines.

What they achieve is a rollicking, laugh-out-loud funny version of the play that exploits the sly humour in Shakespeare’s spoof of the acting world and the mix of magic, make-believe and nonsense that is A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Lines drawn from a speech by Theseus, the Athenian duke, about lovers, fantasies and madmen are given to actor Natasha Greenblatt to introduce the play: “The lunatic, the lover, and the poet / Are of imagination all compact.” In other words, we’re going to see where our imaginations can take us in mounting a play with the barest of props, costumes and set design amid a soundscape of vaguely Celtic period music.

Director Richard Sheridan Willis makes a comic virtue of the necessity to double up on roles, with a cross-dressing cast of seven making a multitude. Only Zach Counsil, a scenery-chewing Bottom, gets a single role, and he has three parts to play in it.

Welsh-born actor Paul Amos is Theseus, affianced to the noblewoman Hippolyta, performed by Rena Polley. As the play opens, he is trying to sort out a trio of lovers, to the satisfaction of Egeus, another nobleman, who is asking the duke to intervene in the matter of his daughter Hermia, who is smitten with Lysander. Egeus, played by Elizabeth Saunders wearing a man’s overcoat, is determined that Hermia should marry Demetrius, whom Hermia loathes. Greenblatt’s Hermia, looking teenaged in jeans and white blouse, is feisty in love; she conspires with Lysander (Jesse Nerenberg in a young professional’s white shirt and blue/green tie) to meet at night in the forest, from whence they will run off to his dowager aunt’s and marry.

Demetrius (Michael Man) is meanwhile the object of unwanted affection from Helena, played by Christina Fox, an obvious beauty in a lacy, frumpy dress who speaks oxymoronically of her own lack of appeal. Helena overhears Lysander and Hermia’s plans and vows revenge by sending Demetrius into the wood to chase down Hermia before she makes off with Lysander.

Enter Peter Quince and his band of players, tradesmen who will perform the story of “Pyramus and Thisby” as entertainment for the Theseus/Hippolyta nuptials. Michael Man, the benighted Demetrius, is now the smug, smiling Quince, with his satchel primly held by a strap across his chest – reducing one to helpless giggles every time he comes on with his scruffy band. Greenblatt is Snug, the tinker. Quince is constantly interrupted by Nick Bottom, the weaver, who feels he’s the last word in showmanship. “If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes; I will move storms, I will condole in some measure,” he says of his intentions for playing Pyramus. Remaining quick-change artists are Nerenberg as Francis Flute, the bellows mender who will be Thisby; Fox as Robin Starveling, who gets to be the wall, holding up too fingers as the chink between which the lovers whisper to each other.

Much brisk stage business takes place as players under bobbing lights like stars or fireflies  move in and out through gauzy curtains that make a scrim.

A long green patchwork, velvety throw with pillowy knolls rolls out from behind the curtains to serve as the wood where the fairy king Oberon (Amos with a mossy stole over his black suit jacket) rules with Titania (Polley in a spangled gown). A nimble, shape-shifting Saunders is Oberon’s eager fairy assistant Puck, charged with bewitching, by herbal means, Titania to fall in love with Bottom, now transformed into a braying ass. Puck is assigned too to drug Demetrius so he falls in love with Helena, but gets it wrong, so that both Athenians are now entranced with Helena and Hermia becomes the rejected one. All this is accomplished with a sleight-of-hand tossing about of miniature red lights that spring from their fingers.

The minutes whiz past in this Shakespearean, clownish romp. Minimalist in its set design, but rococo in its acting and physical comedy, this Dream is a dream.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Richard Sheridan Willis

Sound design by Rob Bertola; set and costumes by Shannon Lea Doyle; lighting by Noah Feaver; magic design by Zach Counsil; movement by Melinda Little

Presented by The Chekhov Collective

At The Citadel, Toronto, through March 11

Photo of Zach Counsil, Natasha Greenblatt, Michael Man, Jesse Nerenberg and Christina Fox by Racheal McCaig


Mapping lives in dance

Map by Years is a feast for Toronto dance fans. Peggy Baker has assembled an all-star cast of dancers, choreographers, musicians and designers to present three of her stellar pieces from the past and to perform herself in a solo dance story created with Sarah Chase.

The outline of windows on the rear wall of the Theatre Centre space turn it into a salon, an intimate private space to experience virtuosity.

Jessica Runge is a wonder in “Her Heart,” a piece Baker made on herself in 1993 and revised in 2005. It is one of the earlier instances in which Baker performed with a live musician, choreographing both performers.

Here pianist Cheryl Duvall plays the four sections of the Johannes Brahms Intermezzo in tandem with Runge, who appears to ride the music. The music is in her, leading her, as it is in pianist Duvall. Runge, with her incredible fluidity, wearing the blue velvet long A-line dress designed by Caroline O’Brien, makes “Her Heart” her own, leaving with a look of peace and hope, as if she were giving us a piece of her heart.

Andrea Nann, another of Baker’s well chosen legacy dancers, revives “Krishna’s Mouth” (2003) in her inimitable style. The lines of the narrative are choreographed to repeat as Nann (Natasha Bakht performs on alternate nights) speaks/dances and cellist Anne Bourne keens and plays Karen Tanaka’s “Song of Songs.” As a child, Krishna the Hindu god of compassion and love, puts a clot of earth into his mouth. When his mother investigates she “sees the entire universe in her baby’s mouth.” Nann, hair braided in a long pigtail, wears a translucent tunic over top and square-cut pants and engages in very geometric moves, sweeping across the stage, crouching low, lying down and rising up, the energy driving her from her core. Musician and dancer are balanced; both are a vehicle for expression of the music. Acoustics may need some adjustment as there are moments when the women’s voices and the music overwhelm each other.

Baker created the silent solo “Portal” (2008) with lighting designer Marc Parent. Kate Holden (Mairi Greig on alternate nights) embodies Baker’s notes: “I was forced to consider the edges of time and space at the brink of death.” Holden appears in a cone of light that makes a lit square just big enough to accommodate the performer. She wears an expression of sadness, almost defeat. But the dance defies death, the movement and the breath making all the necessary music. The stage goes black and Holden reappears in a new space of light, bare arms windmilling, each half of her body appearing to act independently of the other, strong and under control.

“Portal” makes a natural transition to “unmoored,” Baker’s second creation with Sarah Chase. The two first made “The Disappearance of Right and Left” in 2003, based on 102 stories Chase asked Baker to write, two for each year of her life up until then. But Baker omitted an important tale, that of her marriage to musician and composer Ahmed Hassan. Last year she came back to Chase, ready to tell that story.

Out of 30 pages of Baker’s writing, done in a room near the Mediterranean in Bogliasco, Italy, Chase has shaped a performance that Baker speaks, sometimes reading, sometimes reciting, raw in its emotions and polished in its performance. Two chairs, a table and a music stand make three stations among which she moves. What we see in our mind’s eye are the rooms Baker describes, from apartment to nursing home to hospital, where her long-time husband died, age 55, after living with multiple sclerosis for many years.

There’s a principle, it seems, fundamental to all choreography – you can see it in ballet, in bharatnatyam  and in modern dance – that makes the spine the centre from which all else moves. In Baker’s work, this full-frontal first position is often seen; as if her spine, running through neck and torso, were the driveshaft for the movement.

In black shirt, belted black jeans and low-heeled boots, Baker faces us, very erect, then moves through her story extending her arms to give it to us, accompanied by the vocals of singer Maryem Hassan Tollar, Ahmed Hassan’s sister. Everyone is moved, including the dancer.

As an artist Baker needed to make this dance story, for it marks the renewal of creativity, going forward with undying love on the wings of a poem by Rumi.

Map by Years

Works by Peggy Baker|Sarah Chase

Produced by Peggy Baker Dance Projects

At the Theatre Centre, Toronto, through February 25

Photo of Peggy Baker (top left) by Aleksandar Antonjevic. Clockwise: Andrea Nann and Ahmed Hassan

Fierce and fiercer

Any George F. Walker play, it goes without saying, is going to be a matter of some intensity. Stage one in a space so small the front row viewers could almost reach out and touch an actor and you’ve got a real pressure cooker. Which is pretty much what Fierce is: an hour-long, over-the-top dark fantasy about a crazed drug addict/alcoholic in a court-ordered session with an angry female doctor and counsellor.

As the lights come up and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” fades out, we are in a doctor’s office.

Emmelia Gordon is Jayne, a heavyset character with long, still wet brown hair under a toque, arm in a sling, dressed in prison-issue, dark-green sweats. Marisa Crockett is Margaret (“Maggs” to Jayne) a thin-lipped, hair-pulled-back, uptight, rigid MD whose file folder and notes act as her protective shield.

Injured Jayne has been released from jail after causing a truck to flip when she walked into heavy traffic. Dr. Maggie lost her patience with such patients many appointments ago. Each woman is determined to break the other.

More than a shouting match or a contest of wills, Fierce is wrapped around a tragedy that will only be revealed in the last moments of the show. In the meantime, it’s a wild rollercoaster ride on rails of rapid-fire dialogue that evokes laughter, horror, sorrow and shock in about equal measure.

In the real time of a session with a counsellor, we learn that Jayne is a teacher, a guidance counsellor in fact, who refers to the troubled students she dealt with, including one involved in a murder case audience members will recognize from the news. (“That was one of mine.”) She’s on the attack from the top of the hour.

They squabble; no one wins. “I’m almost certainly right,” says Maggie about Jayne’s situation, “and you’re definitely not.” Jayne is refusing to cooperate with questioning. How did you lose your husband, Maggie wants to know. Jayne answers with thick sarcasm, “We went for a walk in a very dense forest and I lost him.”

Jayne will only comply if she is allowed to ask questions. She’s looked up Margaret’s background and found Margaret has herself been an addict, an orphan and is covering up some serious psychological damage. At one point, Jayne sends the doctor scurrying for the bathroom and takes the opportunity to read Margaret’s notes: “Bullshit! Wrong!,” she shouts, then, shrugging at some comment, “fine.”

Since both characters are conditioned to lie, Walker’s arc is soon found. They will argue, probe, undermine each other, finally drink vodka out of the bottle and share a joint. And before the lights come down they will tell their buried truths.

Fierce, written in 2016, shares themes with Walker’s Parents Night (2014) and The Bigger Issue (2015) and like many of his previous works underscores the effects of poverty and social ills on basically good people.

Days later, Jayne’s agony and her doctor’s sorry state are still with us, proof that Walker has lost none of his momentum.


By George F. Walker

Directed by Wes Berger

A Criminal Girlfriends production at Red Sandcastle Theatre, Toronto, until March 3

Photo of Marisa Crockett (lying down) and Emmelia Gordon by John Gundy

Dance, define, decode, delight

For anyone unfamiliar with, yet fascinated by the vocabulary of bharatnatyam dance, the idea of a decoding wrapped in a performance is a welcome prospect.  

Nova Bhattacharya’s decoding bharatnatyam is both a learning experience and an entertainment. As the choreographer explains, the three works in the show, “investigate the places where cultures overlap – where the influence of Indian dance produces fresh and exciting contemporary Canadian art.” 

Montreal dancer/choreographer José Navas, who has created works on ballet companies, made Calm Abiding for Bhattacharya in 2006. Aptly titled, the dance begins and ends in stillness and draws on bharatnatyam and modern dance modes of expression.

The silver polish on Bhattacharya’s fingernails direct our attention to the hand gestures or mudras of bharatnatyam dance. As with the mimes of classical ballet, the gestures, especially in combination with eye movement, have a narrative significance. So we take note when Bhattacharya’s eyes are closed or open. All is simplicity here, from the dancer’s basic black tunic and capri pants to Marc Parent’s minimalist lighting, signalling the changing sections of the dance. Alexander MacSween’s electronic and acoustic music turns Bhattacharya’s words and laugh into rhythmic repetition. Throughout, we are reminded how any movement in the body of a highly trained dancer can convey meaning at a subliminal level.

The decoding becomes literal in Breaking Lines, a duet that Bhattacharya created with bharatnatyam dancers Neena Jayarajan and Atri Nundy in 2016. Jayarajan, who trained with Menaka Thakkar for more than 28 years, wears a blue hoodie over black pants. Nundy, who learned bharatnatyam over decades with Lata Pada, wears a sari and ankle bells. They talk, they laugh, they join hands and they make fun of each other, in what is presented as a rehearsal. “What are you doing?” asks one of the other dancer, who appears to be picking blossoms. “Putting flowers in my bath,” is the answer.

Nundy and Jayarajan engage in the rhythmic tiki-teki rhythmic recitative that is an important feature of classical Indian dance. Hands on the ground is a greeting to Mother Earth, another gesture over the eyes means a blessing. A raised pinkie finger can be interpreted as a bridge or a lifting of something heavy as if it were light as a feather. We also take note of their feet, which move in heel-to-toe fashion, sometimes while the dancer is in a deep plié position, pounding out the rhythms as if feet could talk. In one amusing passage, Nundy describes the vision of a handsome man, urging her partner forward as if to approach him. They dance to a timer; at 20 minutes the alarm signals the end of the performance.

Lucy Rupert, director of Blue Ceiling dance company, comes from a contemporary dance background. Arriving on stage in Alaap, a piece Bhattacharya created with her in 2013, she wears a long black jumpsuit, with split pants that reveal her legs, ankle bells attached above bare feet. An electronic bubbling sound (music from B1 Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm) accompanies her movement. An ingenious bit of lighting by Noah Feaver gives her shadows in two directions, one lime green, one hot pink, an expression of a divided self coordinated through dance. Striding upright, then sashaying into floor work, Rupert cuts a wide swath across the Citadel stage, circumscribing the space as she takes command of it, one long pinkie finger held high.

decoding bharatnatyam

Choreography by Nova Bhattacharya and José Navas

At The Citadel, Toronto, through February 17

Photo of Neena Jayarajan and Atri Nundy by Ed Hanley