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Enakshi Sinha spreads the joy and power of Indian classical dance

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Enakshi Sinha spreads the joy and power of Indian classical dance

Indian-born Enakshi Sinha is one of the leading dancers of Odissi, an Indian classical dance form, in North America. Her career in Indian classical dance spans 18 years and includes performances in major festivals of India, Europe and North America as a soloist and with her dance productions.

Sinha is the founder, chairperson and artistic director of Mrudanga Centre for Performing Arts, training dancers in Toronto and Windsor. Annually, the organization brings together globally acclaimed artists in a dance and music festival called ‘Umang’.

Sinha has received many awards and accolades. She has recently performed at events including the 2018 TajMahotsav with the backdrop of the Taj Mahal in India, 2019 performances in the Embassies of India in Paris and Portugal, and the 2020 Khajuraho Festival in India. She has had the honour of performing during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Canada.

Tell us about yourself.
I am originally from Kolkata, India. Marriage brought me to this beautiful multicultural country. I have a lifelong devotion to Indian classical dance and work to spread its joy and power, wherever there is an opportunity for dissemination of knowledge, initiation of social change and appreciation of the art through new and collaborative dance productions.

Tell us about your work.
When I landed in Windsor, Ontario in 2006, I was taken aback to find a dearth of Indian classical dance/dancers. I was not ready to give up my passion or dream as a classical dancer and get a 9 to 5 job, so I created my own environment and started performing in different places like schools, universities and in community shows. I also started travelling to different parts of Canada to raise awareness of Odissi. Slowly, I started enrolling students to learn this beautiful art form and thus Mrudanga Centre for Performing Arts took birth.

In 2007, I became the founding artistic director of Mrudanga Centre for Performing Arts operating in Toronto and Windsor, a non-profit organization providing dance training for children and adults.

Since 2008, Mrudanga has presented annual shows with students. Since 2012, we have organized a two-day dance festival in Windsor every year called ‘Umang’ with professional artistes from India, US and Europe, funded by the Ontario Arts Council which has slowly and steadily become popular.

Coming to this multicultural country has inspired me as an artist, leading me to create several solo pieces and collaborative productions with different genres of Canadian and Indian artists. Recently, I worked on a collaborative project with an Indigenous artist in Nunavut and for the very first time, Baker Lake, Nunavut, witnessed the fusion of Odissi dance with a throat singer.

In 2019, for the very first time in the Stratford festival, Indian classical dance was introduced as a full-fledged production. I presented my production called ‘Colours of Winter’ with a Symphony orchestra from Stratford and Waterloo region, and a Hindustani classical singer invited from India. In 2017, I had the opportunity to work with Theatre Prospero Company in their home production called ‘Anthem of Life’ showcasing Odissi with theatre.

What are your future goals?
I would like to spread my dance form as far as possible. The world is changing, and the change is more evident in some areas of life. There is an umbrella of uncertainty that hangs over all of us [with COVID] and all we can do now is to accept this new world as it is and find ways of embracing opportunities. I am planning to launch a web series on dance to reach out to a larger audience.

How do you deal with challenges?
It is because of the challenges I have faced that I am what I am today and am thankful for them. I have always dealt with them with a feeling of positivity and taken them as opportunities to go to the next level in my career.

I am a professional performer and during this pandemic, where stage performances are zero, I have taken the opportunity to enhance my knowledge from my gurus (teachers) in India and provide online lessons to my students in Canada and abroad.

What is your advice to other immigrants?
To never ever give up on your passion to achieve your dream…it will be very tough in the beginning but don’t get defeated in the battle before you see its end, as we always see a light at the end of the tunnel. Happiness is without bounds when your passion becomes your profession.

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