Menaka Thakkar Dance Company - Professional Dancing
- Nrtyakala graduates are invited to participate in MTDC activities and to audition to be part of the professional dance company.
- Some advanced Nrtyakala students are also given the unique opportunity of gaining valuable beginning performing experience at some of Menaka Thakkar Dance Company performances throughout the year.
Menaka Thakkar Dance Company (MTDC), Canada’s oldest Indian dance company was founded in 1978 as a performing wing for Menaka’s dance school, Nrtyakala, and later separately incorporated in 1993 as an independent performing company. The central artistic mandate embodies the vision of the Company’s functioning over a whole range of Indian dance, traditional and contemporary, involving creation of new works, presenting home seasons and touring. Besides the usual wing of new creation, the company has recently developed two special units of dance creation: one for contemporary choreography and the other for creating works for young audiences. The company also aims to emphasize and sustain its dancers’ training process, both within and beyond the Indian dance traditions in which they are primarily rooted, so that they can effectively function in the shared domain with other dance traditions. For this purpose the company organizes in collaboration with Kalanidhi Fine Arts of Canada, a two-week Summer Residency for Professional Development called DanceAdvance: This
is meant for all established and emerging dancers of all genres, Indian and non-Indian. Its twin objectives are to create more versatile dancers who can perform varied choreographic works of different choreographers and who can contribute to the development of the contemporary face of Indian dance. MTDC Dance Lab is dedicated to nurturing the art form in a variety of ways involving imaginative initiatives and bold experiments. The company’s lecture and demonstration series, Inside/Outside Series, invites artists working in diverse art forms to examine and understand the nature of creative processes in interrelated disciplines. The company also nurtures the dancers by presenting them in an intimate performance space of our studio through MTDC Studio Series.
Menaka Thakkar whose vision and work are central to the Company is the Founder, Artistic Director, Choreographer and the principal performer. Her own performances have gone over a thousand in a 50-year performing career. Also the activities of the company are far ranging and cover creation of new works, performing, touring, involvement in school residencies and other youth related activities, teaching of Indian dance and community outreach. In particular, Menaka has taught widely for the last 40 years in Canada and created a whole generation of professional Indian dancers in Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, etc.
Menaka’s works span a wide range: from stunning solos and duets to elaborate productions of dance dramas and children’s works, and from pure traditional classical dance to experimental works involving fusion of dance styles and musical systems. Her choreography, whether in traditional or non-traditional idiom, is rich, textured, innovative and multi-layered in meaning and nuance.
Her major works include Geet Govinda, Sitayana, Parashakti, Moods of Morning (jointly with Robert Desrosiers), Shapes and Rhythms, Farewell to Heaven, Interior Landscape, Duality (jointly with Claudia Moore), Mukti Nad, Land of Cards (jointly with Danny Grossman, Bengt Jorgen/ Debbie Wilson, Patrick Parson and William Lau), In the Further Soil, Love’s Folly, Scattered Memories, Pattano Pradesh – The Queen of Spades, Moving to Rhythm, and Voyage of Awakening. The artistic achievements of the Company and its Artistic Director have resulted in the nomination for Dora Award for fusion choreography, a Creative Residency Award under the joint Canada-Mexico-USA Program, Arts Toronto Award (2000) for Performing Arts, President’s Award from Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce, finalist for the Premier’s Award and an honorary doctorate (D.Litt.) degree from York University for the Company’s Artistic Director.
In March of 2012 Menaka Thakkar Dance Company’s school Nrtyakala received a grant from Ontario Trillium Foundation to purchase equipment and develop live distance broadcasting of performances from our Toronto theatre to locations across Canada. Indian dance audiences will now be able to attend all of our performances remotely through their local community presenter and also be able to attend performances of Kalanidhi Fine Arts of Canada Festivals
Find out more about Menaka Thakkar Dance Company: menakathakkardance.org