“Rina had only to twist a finger, lower her eyes, or raise a toe to captivate her audience. And when she raised her eyes that became more important than anything in the room.” – Grant Strate, Dance in Canada
Rina Singha will be performing a piece titled “The Storyteller” at KMC 2012 on September 23rd at 3pm.
Rina Singha’s extraordinary career as a solo Kathak performer and choreographer spans upwards of four and a half decades. Recognized as one of Canada’s eminent dance artists, she has earned international acclaim and recognition for the elegant beauty and purity of her technique and the skill and wisdom of her interpretative powers. Coming to Canada in 1965 at a time when most non-mainstream dance was seen as ‘quaint’ or ‘exotic’, Singha made it her life’s mission to ensure that the beauty of her art form would be recognized and appreciated both for its depth of technique and its message. Two major influences have shaped Singha’s artistic journey: the unique circumstances that enabled her to train under a living legend of Kathak and the fact that the practice of this carefully disciplined art would take place outside the soil that nurtured it.
Through a Government of India initiative for reviving and promoting the classical arts, promising young artists were given state scholarships to train under the great masters. Singha won the competition in 1957, it changed her life completely as she turned her back on a brilliant academic career and entered the world of Kathak. She chose to study under the legendary guru Shambhu Maharajji, renowned for the beauty of line, lyrical grace and most of all, for his detailed and insightful portrayal of women. The training was individualized, rigorous, and disciplined. It carried an emphasis on the commitment both to excellence and to the ongoing endeavor to seek the essence of a movement and place it in the choreographic framework.
Singha has choreographed traditional, experimental, and Biblical works, which includes collaborations with choreographer Danny Grossman. Her work has led her to be recognized internationally as a leader in the field of Christian dance.
Because of her own experiences as a struggling immigrant artist, Singha has reached out to other non-western dancers who shared the same struggles, worked hard with the arts councils at all levels with an advisory capacity to see that culture-specific dances are given their due respect and recognition. She has been an advisor to the Canada Council and the Ontario Arts Council where she coordinated the pilot-funding program and served on the Toronto Arts Council from 2002-2005 as chair of the Dance committee. She has also been invited to adjudicate outside Ontario. In 2008, Rina Singha started Kathak Mahotsav Canada, as an annual gathering of Canadian Kathak dancers, to celebrate the art of Kathak. The goal was to raise the profile of Kathak and to create a better understanding of the Kathak aesthetics in order to foster a strong sense of community among the Kathak dancers.
With a M.A. in Geography and a M.Ed. in Curriculum Development, Rina has also distinguished herself as an educator applying the same passion to training children to value and esteem their own cultures and go beyond the stereotype and look for the positive, life enriching aspects of other cultures. From 1971 to 1976, she was on faculty at York Univeristy teaching Kathak and a course in world dance.
Rina Singha’s dance career as a pioneer and trailblazer in many facets of dance has been recognized with many prestigious awards both nationally and internationally and include the Pioneer Skills for Change duMaurier Award, the William Kilbourne Lifetime Achievement Award, the Grant Community Achievers 2008 award, and the Internationally Juried Award for Excellence in Performing Arts for her Biblical dances. Now at age 74, Ms. Singha continues to choreograph, dance, teach and mentor.