Jun 6, 2011

Immortal love story told

On stage. Canadian actor Lisa Ray plays Jahan Ara, the daughter of Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, in TAJ. Photo by Sid Sawant Lata Pada is set to unveil her most ambitious creation yet.

Internationally acclaimed for promoting Indian dance both here and abroad, the Mississauga resident’s new piece, TAJ, presented by her troupe, Sampradaya Dance Creations, makes its world premiere this weekend as part of Toronto’s Luminato 2011.

Pada was born in India and is intimately familiar with the story behind the Taj Mahal, one of the architectural wonders of the world.

She came up with the concept for the piece.

“I was particularly drawn to the poignancy of Emperor Shah Jahan’s last days when imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb, especially as he gazes upon the Taj, an edifice built to honour his wife and now her final resting place,” said Pada, who founded Sampradaya Dance Creations in Mississauga more than 20 years ago.

The chronicling of political and familial strife, and the undying devotion of Emperor Shah Jahan to his wife, is as awe-inspiring as the monument itself.

In the script written by award-winning playwright John Murrell, the emperor engages in an impassioned dialogue with his devoted daughter, Jahanara, taking the audience on an emotional journey that explores the ruler’s life, the 17th-century Mughal empire and the universal themes of power, passion, love and loss – and the grandeur they inspired.

TAJ features Bollywood star Kabir Bedi (Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story, Octopussy, Sandokan, The Bold and the Beautiful) and Canadian actor Lisa Ray (Bollywood/Hollywood, Water, Cooking With Stella). They’re backed up by an ensemble of dancers from the Greater Toronto Area, the United Kingdom and India.

Pada, who lives in Erin Mills, has had an extensive career as a bharatanatyam soloist with performances in prestigious dance festivals worldwide. She was conferred the Order of Canada in 2009, and holds the distinction of being the first South Asian artist to receive this award. In January, she received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award – India’s highest honour for overseas Indians.

TAJ takes place at Harbourfront Centre’s Fleck Dance Theatre, located at 207 Queen’s Quay W.

Show times are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $51.50 to $71.50.

Call 416-368-4849 or visit luminato.com.

(Source: Mississauga.com What's On / Joseph Chin)

(Photo: Sid Sawant)

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