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StarBuzz Online - Toronto

Monday, July 16, 2018


CANADA, JULY 16, 2018: The non-profit group, Arts and Culture Initiative of South Asia (ACISA), is gearing up to entertain the crowds of Brampton, Mississauga and surrounding cities, with Vibrant Brampton, a free two-day festival that is taking place at Sheridan College Grounds, Davis Campus in Brampton on July 27 and 28.  Apart from performing arts, ACISA will be also be presenting a two-week long Visual Arts of South Asian (V.A.S.A. - Arts Festival), titled Colours of South Asia, which will run from July 15 to 28 at Beaux Arts in downtown Brampton. The festivals have several components including hands on workshops, Q & A Panel discussions, a pre-event party and a Gala reception at Brampton City Hall Conservatory on July 26th.

The festival is being sponsored by RBC, Value Mobile, Downtown Brampton BIA.

A phenomenal Indo-Jazz Bollywood dance show is being choreographed by Shiamak Dance Toronto, while excited fans are looking forward to the classical and fusion kathak performance by the talented Panwar Dance Group. Award-winning Indian classical dancer Enakshi Sinha together with Flamenco dancer, Tamar Ilana will be presenting yet another fusion arts performance,  Danseuse, Gunja Chakravarty and her team are set to wow the crowds with their Bharatnatyam-Contemporary blend through Gunja's brand, Nrityadeep.

This free and open festival will have the crowds dancing and humming to old and new songs in numerous languages from bands and individual artists from the GTA like Harpreet Dhillon, Punjabi youth singing sensation, Kamal UK, Indo-Canadian Bollywood heartthrob Parichay, along with Saregama semi finalist Sumana Ganguly.   Juno nominated artist, Tony Singh will have the crowds screaming for more with his band Sirens of Shanti, while the band, KARMA, of Lost Again fame will 'wow' the crowds with an East and West mix of music. International multi-talented artist, Miraya and Punjabi artist Jassi Kaur will regale the crowds with their popular numbers. Festival chairman Sandeep Prabhakar says, "This year, ACISA is ensuring that the 15 days of the celebration of Arts and Culture is a real treat to the community! Whether you like to dance to the beats of Bollywood or sway to diverse music, get a taste of mouth-watering South Asian cuisine or buy a souvenir, it will be a festival to remember this summer.

Celebrity hosts for this year's festival include Jake Dheer, Amin Dhillon, Annie Koshy and Nav Nanwa. Svetlana Lazareva, Director Communications added, "this year we have over 200 artists from a variety of cultural backgrounds celebrating arts and culture".

You only need to be a fan of music, art or dance or just be a summer festival enthusiast!  Whatever your interest, Vibrant Brampton and the V.A.S.A. - Arts Festival will be the highlight of the summer and something worth attending!


KARMA has a repertoire that encompasses both new and age-old classics and originals of both Hindi and English rock songs. Created in 2011 under the influence of lead singer and guitarist, D€€ Chakravarty and his brother Abhi Chakraverty, the band rocked the Reverbnation rock charts to #3 with their original song, Lost Again. The artists in the group bring a unique flavour to the music they create based on their own individual influences. Their interactive manner with the crowd is a sure pleaser as they are known to get everyone on their feet and dancing.



Nrityadeep is a dance company dedicated towards traditional forms of dance performances fused together with modern art styles. Artistic Founder and Director Gunja Chakraborty embodies her passion for classical and new-age dances. With over a decade of formal training in Bharatanatyam she also excels in contemporary Bollywood dance. More information can be found at www.nrityadeep.com.



SHIAMAK Toronto Dance team consists of some of the brightest and most promising talent in the GTA! Handpicked by Shiamak Davar himself, they have made their mark all over Ontario with power packed performances that explode with energy and keep the audiences wanting more and more.



Arts and Culture Initiative of South Asia (ACISA) is a non- profit organization with a vision to:

Promote cross cultural understanding with the aim to bringing a diverse community together in celebration of life, culture, art and tradition.

The Mission is to promote the diversity of South Asian art forms by showcasing local artistes and providing them with an opportunity to present their work to a wide range of audience (Non South Asians & South Asians).

To break cultural barriers and encourage participation, allowing all communities from Brampton to experience the different forms of South Asian Arts and culture.

The Board of ACISA consist of voluntary members from all walks of life, which include:

Sandeep Prabhakar- Festival Chair, Ricky Bajaj -Festival President, Arpan Banerjee- Festival Secretary,  Aparna Rangnekar- Director, Visual Arts Festival, Ashapurna Doktor – Director, Programming, Svetlana Lazareva- Director, Communications



Established in 2016, the Annie J Koshy - Media Consultant has developed a reputation for expertise in Media Relations, PR and Promotion of those in the arts, media and entertainment industries, as well as in Marketing and Community Outreach. The multi-award winning working brand, has a vast network, both within the South Asian as well as the mainstream communities and has the leverage to develop meaningful associations amongst individuals, businesses and within the media fraternity. (www.anniejkoshy.com)


Svetlana Lazareva, Director PR & Communications: 647 248 8890

Annie Koshy, PR/Media Consultant & CEO - GTA South Asian Media Network  647 994 6225

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat @VibrantBrampton; twitter @VibrantAcisa. Visit www.vibrantbrampton.ca and www.vasaartsfestival.ca for more information or email us at info@acisa.ca or acisa.brampton@gmail.com



TORONTO, CANADA (Tuesday, July 10, 2018):  Sanskriti Arts presented Dance Diaries 2018, a magical dance show with the legendary Pandit Birju Maharaj this week in Mississauga.   The Kathak icon, along with his foremost disciple Saswati Sen, presented a series of storytelling and expressions through the classical form of the centuries old dance mastered by the legend.   The mesmerizing show had audiences spellbound as they watched the sprightly 80-year old maestro on stage presenting his unique and legendary dance techniques that included an entire section on Abhinaya, meaning conveying stories through expression.   


"We are blessed to have Pandit Birju Maharajji here in Toronto," said Puja Amin on July 8, founder of Sanskriti Arts who has brought forth Dance Diaries for dance fans to learn the art of popular dance under the tutelage of India's best choreographers'.  "He is now 80 years old and this is his last tour to North America.   And this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform with the legend himself on stage during the final showcase."


The story of Ahilya and how she was turned into a rock and turned back into human form by Lord Rama was told through the dance and Natya Shastra of Sen. The Show also included performances from Sanskriti Arts students, solo performance by Puja Amin and dances by Pandit Birju Maharaj and his foremost disciple Saswati Sen.   The performances ended with a finale of jugalbandi between Pandit Birju Maharaj, internationally recognized as the greatest living exponent of North Indian classical dance 'Kathak', Sen and his accompanying artists on vocal, table and harmonium holding the audience spellbound.  


Presented by Sanskriti Arts and HSBC Bank, the Grand performance took place at the Maja Prentice Theatre in Mississauga and presented dance enthusiasts with the one and only award winning icon of Kathak representative from India.   This will be followed by workshops with Pandit Birju Maharaj thifor beginners and advance students as well as a class of Abhinaya


"When you go to do darshan, it's like they say bhagwan (God) chooses us.  Birju Maharaj ji is just like that," said Amin.   "They chose us, we didn't choose them.  The moment the opportunity came up, we said we cannot let this go.  We are honoured and blessed to host Maharajji on his last tour and have a Toronto show and workshop series as well as a Masterclass and an Abhinaya class which is his forte." 


When asked the secret to his health and success, the kathak legend said "From all the big artists, I got from them aashirwad (blessings), be it Bismillah Sahib (Khan), Amir Khan Sahib, Vilayat Sahib or Ravi Shankar.  More than money, I want aashirwad."


This is the third year of Dance Diaries organized by Sanskriti Arts that began with Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan who conducted workshops and a finale for students in the GTA in 2016.  The journey was taken forward in 2017 with Shampa Gopikrishna, the daughter of Pandit Gopikrishna and a popular established dancer and choreographer in her own right.  


"Our future plans include taking our students for a two week journey to India by the end of this year to be tutored with the country's best  choreographers' and get a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from the legends themselves," said Amin.    

About Sanskriti Arts

Established in 2003, Sanskriti Arts is the brainchild of Puja Amin who has brought together performers with a passion for dance and extreme drive to explore their potential.    Under her tutelage, the company takes pride in raising awareness of the various forms of South Asian dance, spread Indian culture and ethnicity through traditional and contemporary dance and music performances.   They have been a pioneer in authentic South Asian Entertainment including classical, folk and Bollywood repertoire.  The Sanskriti Arts Ensemble has performed in concerts and music videos for Falguni Pathak, Boman Irani, Lisa Ray, Jonita Gandhi, Sukhwinder Singh, Lata Mangeshkar, Priyanka Chopra and Shahid Kapoor amongst others.


About Pandit Birju Maharaj

The most extraordinary artist in the history of Kathak dance, Pandit Birju Maharaj, the artistic director of his company, is internationally recognized as the greatest living exponent of North Indian classical dance 'Kathak'.


Beate Gordon, Director of performing Arts Department of the Asia Society, New York wrote: "Birju Maharaj is in the class of the great western performers such as Baryshnikov, Margot Fonteyn, Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. He is a phenomenon".


Birju Maharaj was born in 1937 into a family of Kathak dancers. His father first taught him the form and then, after his father's death, by his uncles. He is now recognized as the foremost master of Kathak dance, having long ago earned the distinguished social title of "Pandit", reserved for those who are supreme masters of their art form. He has helped to re-popularize Kathak, marrying elements of both the ancient, holy style and the secular, dramatic style of later years, and pioneering the use of multiple dancers in his choreographies. Filled with technical virtuosity and flamboyance, Kathak is characterized by elaborate rhythmic footwork (tatkar), graceful spins (chakar), hand gestures (mudras) and subtle expression of moods and emotions (bhava-abhinaya). An extraordinary artist, Birju Maharaj integrates pure classical movements and style with a distinctly contemporary use of space in his choreographies.


Among many awards, Pandit Birju Maharaj has received the Sangeet Natak Academy Award (the highest civilian arts award) and the Padma Vibhushan (the highest presidential award for achievement) from the government of India. He was the invited choreographer at the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina in 1991, and was honored with a special award at the prestigious Avignon Festival in Paris, France in 1995. He was the chief guest and performed at the international Kathak festivals at Chicago and at San Francisco.


The vocalist, percussionist, composer, poet, choreographer and dancer is a versatile artist. Not only on India, he is familiarly known abroad, nearly all over the world. Choreographic compositions of Pandit Birju Maharaj have been presented in most of the prestigious dance festivals in India, USA, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Czechoslovakia, USSR, China, Japan, Burma, Ceylon, Malaysia, Australia and Indonesia.


Other Artists in the Company

About Saswati Sen, Foremost Disciple and Dancer

 Internationally reputed touring artist from India, Saswati Sen is one of the foremost disciples of the legendary Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj of India. She has given numerous solo performances in all the major dance venues in India. She has performed in the Festival of India concerts in Great Britain, USSR, Japan, and France and also at many international festivals. She performed as a troupe member of Pandit Birju Maharaj at the world famous Carnegie Hall, New York for 'Music Festival of India' performance in celebration of Golden Anniversary of India's independence. A recipient of the Sanskriti Award, the Shringar Mani Award and the Critics Recommendation Award, today Saswati is regarded as an artist with immense versatility and talent both as a performer as well as a teacher and is one of the best exponents of the famous Lucknow style of Kathak dance of India.


Utpal Ghosal, Tabla artist

Utpal Ghosal is a renowned Tabla artist and has been working with Pandit Birju Maharaj in his productions for more than eleven years. It is fascinating to see the grasp of rhythm he has and how the maestro challenges him. He had his tabla tutelage under the guidance of Sri Gour talukdar and Sri Pankaj Chatterjee for more than 10 years. Later he had advanced training of tabla from Ustad Sabir Khan, son of Late Ustad Keramatullah Khan and presently a disciple of Pandit Subhankar Banerjee in tabla. He had learnt the intricacies of accompanying Kathak dance on tabla from Pandit Vijay Shankar and Padmavibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj.


Chandrachur Bhattacharjee,  Sitar artist

Chandrachur Bhattacharjee had his public debut at the age of 14 in Calcutta, India. Since then he had played in almost every major cities in India and many other places abroad, which includes Japan, Italy, France, Norway, Finland, United Kingdom and USA. Besides Indian classical music he has also learnt the theory of Western Classical music.


Anirban Bhattacharyya, Vocalist

Anirban Bhatacharyya is a Hindustani classical vocalist of the Patiyala tradition and a social anthropologist from Kolkata. A senior disciple of Padmashree Ajoy Chakraborty, Anirban aims to break the boundaries between different performance traditions and create a unique space for him. A President of India Gold and Silver Medalist from All India Radio in Khyal and Thumri, and Champion in Thumri from State Music Academy in 2010, Anirban is also a National Scholar in Rabindra Sangeet and had the opportunity of learning from and performing with the legendary Kathak maestro Padma Vibhushan Birju Maharaj all over India and abroad.


About the art form: Kathak

Kathak dance originated in northern India, and by the 13th century was a religious story-telling form mainly performed in temples. By the 15th century, however, it became a more social practice, performed for royalty at palaces as entertainment. The form became more theatrical and flamboyant, with dancers wearing numerous ankle bells to accentuate their rapid spins and complex footwork. This created an essence of rhythm and footwork that is now an integral part of the dance. The stories told by the dancers became less religious and more dramatic, focusing on tragedy and romance. Today, Kathak is often performed as a combination of both its ancient and more modern permutations, showcasing the arc and social relevance of the form. Kathak expresses abandon and yet it has a reticence that offsets this flamboyance and lends it a charm that is irresistible. 


Saturday, June 30, 2018

LStratford’s The Rocky Horror Show extended for two more weeks

Don't dream it! See it!

Stratford's The Rocky Horror Show extended for two more weeks!

To Kill a Mockingbird, The Comedy of Errors and Paradise Lost also extended to meet demand

June 29, 2018… The antici…pation is over! The Rocky Horror Show is being extended for two more weeks at the Stratford Festival. It will now run until November 11.

"Rocky Horror is really connecting with people – more than we ever dreamed," says Executive Director Anita Gaffney. "Every performance has been filled with incredible energy – emanating not only from the tremendous actors on stage but also from the audiences. People are dressing up, doing shout outs, dancing and singing along. This is such a great show to be part of!"

To Kill a Mockingbird, the Schulich Youth Pay, is also being extended into November, with three additional performances. The production now runs until November 8.

"Mockingbird is an incredibly moving production, appealing to people of all ages, particularly to students and to families visiting over the summer holidays," says Gaffney. "By extending it into November, we will be able to welcome a number of additional school groups."

Also extended are The Comedy of Errors, which has been playing to sold-out houses since it opened in June, and Paradise Lost, which will have its world première this August.

Tickets for all of the additional performances are now on sale at www.stratfordfestival.ca or through the box office at 1.800.567.1600.

The Stratford Festival's 2018 season runs until November 11, featuring The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, The Music Man, The Rocky Horror Show, Long Day's Journey Into Night, An Ideal Husband, To Kill a Mockingbird, Napoli Milionaria!, Brontë: The World Without and Paradise Lost.


Shab-e She'r (Poetry Night) July 31

Shab-e She'r (Poetry Night) LXV

Toronto's most diverse poetry reading and open mic series

Featured poets:
Beatriz Hausner & Teddy Syrette

Host: Bänoo Zan

Time: Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Church of St. Stephen in-the-Fields, 365 College St, Toronto, Ontario M5T 2N8

Doors open               6:15 p.m.
Open-mic sign-up     6:30 p.m.
Show                         7 p.m.

Admission: $5


Teddy Syrette indigenous 2-spirit gender-fluid advocate, storyteller, artist, poet & fiction writer, raised on Rankin Reserve of Batchewana First Nation of the Anishnabek people

Beatriz Hausner poet, 3 books & many chapbooks, literary editor & translator, a founding editor of Quattro Books, President of the Literary Translators' Association

Twitter: @BanooZan & @ShabeSherTO

Instagram: @banoo.zan



Bänoo Zan

Founder of Shab-e She'r (Poetry Night)
the most diverse poetry and open mic series in Toronto
Twitter: @BanooZan & @ShabeSherTO
Instagram: @banoo.zan
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