Hemant and Vaishali Panwar: An Evening of Kathak

Saturday, January 17, 2015, 7:30 pm
University of Ottawa, Academic Hall, 135 Séraphin-Marion (West side entrance only)

Hemant Panwar is a renowned dancer who has mesmerized audiences in Holland, Sweden, Denmark, France, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion Islands, Croatia, Japan, Kenya and Gulf countries. His company, Panwar Music & Dance, creates innovative and traditional pieces that involve the artistic directors Hemant and Vaishali Panwar, and their professional team of dancers and musicians. The company specializes in presenting Kathak—a classical dance form with its roots in North India—along with classical Hindustani music.    

Q&A with Hemant & Vaishali Panwar

1. Your dance company is a master of Kathak. Could you explain the style of dance for the uninitiated? What will audiences see at DANs/cE KAPITAL?

We have both studied Jaipur style of Kathak (North Indian classical dance style) under the tutelage of pandit Rajindra Gangani. Our dance with live ensemble will follow a conventional style of Kathak performance in which our recital starts with an expressional piece praising the land of Rajasthan. The slow tempo flows into the complex realms of traditional Kathak technique and improvisation in teen taal. We then catch a glimpse of ancient stories of Meera's love for Lord Krishna in a dance set to the beats of Dadra. From there, the movement celebrates the vibrancy of princely courts through a melodious Tarana involving scintillating footwork. Live music will create a Kathak symphony of power and grace.

2. Could you explain the structure of your company? Do you as artistic directors Hemant Panwar and Vaishali Panwar choreograph most productions?

Our organization, Panwar Music and Dance Productions, is a not-for-profit and charitable organization that promotes mainly Kathak dance style through performances. Vaishali Panwar choreographs the company’s technical dance performances, as well as dance dramas where Hemant takes on the responsibility of composing music. Most of the choreographies are set to Hemant’s original music.

3. Hemant, you sing traditional ghazals and traditional and contemporary Hindi songs. What is it about the various styles that appeals to you?

I was also trained in classical vocals and used to sing with my Guruji in his dance performances. There is a lot of depth in ghazal poetry, so I liked this style of singing from the very beginning. Moreover, Vaishali and I are lyricists as well, so I always feel motivated to compose the rhythms for our lyrics. The contemporary Hindi songs are a new addition after I settled in Canada, as I try my best to always please my audience by singing the songs of their choice.

4. In addition to performing, your company holds a youth festival to create opportunities for young artists. What kind of opportunities have arisen?

The youth festival was initiated to give an opportunity to upcoming dancers who are at the threshold of their professional career. Many of our dancers have ended up performing for reputed dance companies in Toronto after getting exposure through the festival. Our various full-length works, such as Rajasthan Calling and Hesperus 1838 involved a huge number of youths. Many studio concerts are arranged from time to time for invited guests to present short and high energy Kathak compositions by youth dancers. In the month of February, we are organizing an event entitled Generations Together in which we will bridge the gap by bringing youth , adult and senior artists on one platform.

5. Diwali is the biggest season for your company. What kind of productions do you do at that time?

Our company looks forward for Diwali season, as we work very hard for months in advance to perform our theme-based presentations in many events supporting various organizations. 2014 was a special year in which company's best work, Shakuntala, a dance drama was given an opportunity to tour 6 cities in Ontario through the support of the Ontario Arts Council.