Above are dancers from the Menaka Thakkar Dance Company who will perform in Surrey Saturday evening. Below is a scene from the company’s family production of Prince Rama in the Wilderness

Creative expression

Menaka Thakkar Dance Company presents a timeless tale and a night of traditional Indian dance this weekend in Surrey.

Canada’s oldest Indian dance company is gracing the Surrey stage this weekend.

Bringing a mix of traditional and contemporary performances, The Menaka Thakkar Dance Company specializes in introducing the world of Indian dance to mainstream audiences.

There will be two shows at the Surrey Arts Centre on Saturday (Nov. 3). The first, a matinée, is a one-hour family show called Prince Rama in the Wilderness. The production is inspired by the Indian epic, The Ramayana, told through traditional Bharatanatyam dance.

The hero of the story, Prince Rama, is exiled for 14 years because his stepmother wishes her own son to be the new king. Rama and his wife Sita live happily until the devious King Ravana learns of their whereabouts. Magic, a kindly Vulture King and a fierce Monkey Army conspire to create a happy resolution to the story. This performance includes a pre-show chat on Indian dance and a chance to ask questions after the performance.

That evening, the Ontario-based company will present Parashakti: An Evening of Indian Classical and Contemporary Dance, which will feature eight dancers performing classical and contemporary dance and combines traditional forms and works including Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Ballet.

Audiences at the 8 p.m. show will experience these beautiful pieces: Parashakti, a contemporary Bharatanatyam dance that deals with the cycle of creation, sustenance and destruction; Odissi Pallavi, a classical dance form from Orissa, India; Bharatanatyam Varnam, a classical work that combines pure  dance sequences with an ongoing spoken narrative; the modern Shapes & Rhythms, the result of a week-long residency for company founder Menaka Thakkar organized by the National Ballet of Canada; and Riaz, an original work by former company dancer, Natasha Bakht who adds her modern style to classical Bharatanatyam movements.

The Surrey stop is part of a Western Canadian tour that also includes performances in West Vancouver (Nov. 2 at Kay Meek Centre) and Coquitlam (Nov. 4 at Evergreen Cultural Centre).

Prince Rama in the Wilderness takes place Nov. 3, 2 p.m. at the arts centre, located at 13750 88 Ave. All seats are $15. Parashakti is at 8 p.m. on the same stage.

Tickets are $25-33, available online at tickets.surrey.ca or by calling 604-501-5566.

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