Stittsville News
March 21, 2017

The Beatles. The Rolling Stones. Cold Play. Beyoncé. Each of these artists has been inspired by the music of India and incorporated it into wildly popular rock songs.

“The Beatles put Indian classical music on the map – a lot of their songs used it after their trip to India,” explained Anjali Patil.

Patil is a Stittsville resident who primarily grew up in Ottawa and was a child prodigy in the study of Kathak, a form of classical Indian dance. Currently, Patil performs, choreographs and teaches Kathak through her company, Aroha Fine Arts.

Rock and roll and Kathak will fuse together on March 30, in a one-time special performance at ALE – Amberwood Lounge and Eatery.

“I’m really, really, excited,” said Patil.

The audience can expect to be entertained and to learn about both the dance and music from Indian that inspires modern music.

“[I’d like to] Educate and entertain Stittsville with how Indian music has contributed to modern music,” said Patil.

The challenge has been to do something different.

“It’s easy to do a traditional music concert,” said Patil. “I wanted to link it to what people are familiar with.”

That meant taking the classical elements of Kathak music and dance and putting them in a modern context.

“How do I make this more relevant, make this more current?” said Patil. “I feel like I’m coming back to the roots of my dance form with the story telling. But I’m doing something so modern at the same time.”

The focus of Kathak dance is storytelling. In fact, it is a derivative of the word Katha, meaning “story.” Hailing from Northern India, Kathak is well known for the footwork, dynamic spins and expressive use of the face and, uniquely, Kathak dancers use their feet to create sound, almost like percussion instruments.

“Kathak dance has a rhythm – the dancers are musicians too because they use their feet to make music,” explained Patil. “They make intricate rhythm patterns with their bare feet like percussion.”

The performance is the result of a micro-grant program organized as a part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations. The JUNO Awards teamed up with the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC) to create one-time grants to capital region musicians and performers to present their special musical experiences in the weeks prior to the JUNO Awards, being hosted in Ottawa on April 2.

In total, $30,000 in grants were awarded to 37 performances across the 23 city wards. There were only one or two performers selected per ward and Patil is the only Stittsville resident to receive the grant.

Receiving the grant was even more exiting because Kathak is not a traditional form of music. Patil emphasized that it was an honour to be recognized not only as a dancer but for the musical aspect of the dance.

And this unique performance is attracting a lot of attention.

“I am floored at how much people have been intrigued by this,” said Patil. She elaborated that Westjet Magazine has already contacted here for more info and both a producer from Los Angeles and a DJ from Montreal plan on attending the event.

The hour-long performance has a playlist curated by Patil, and she is looking forward to this performance, which will also feature a vocalist with a harmonium and one with a table (a double drum.)

“Indian dance and music is one of those art forms that require the energy of the audience,” she said. “The venue seats just over 100. Let’s have a packed event!”

The performance wouldn’t be happening without the grant or the support from ALE.

“They were so excited and supportive,” said Patil. “I’m so grateful to have the opportunity and they are taking a chance.”