DanceWorks, Toronto's longest-running contemporary dance series, will present the world premiere of Akshongay (the Bengali word for "together") from acclaimed Nova Dance, choreographed and performed by Artistic Director Nova Bhattacharya and long-time collaborator Louis Laberge-Côté. Akshongay has the singular honour of being the 200th DanceWorks Mainstage Series event and runs from Thursday, April 11 to Saturday, April 13 at Enwave Theatre, part of Harbourfront Centre's NextSteps.
Akshongay gives powerful voice to the lasting connection and shared artistic vision between these two exceptional artists and the transformative journey they embarked on over a decade ago.
It celebrates the multiple threads of Bhattacharya and Laberge-Côté's friendship - in close proximity and in separation - and draws on their distinct and common backgrounds. Akshongay weaves Hindu myths, French Canadian folklore, whimsy and heartbreak into an abstract, dreamlike world as it showcases the power and beauty of both bharatanatyam (a classical Indian dance form) and modern dance. This is the first full-length work jointly choreographed by this unique duo.
Bhattacharya and Laberge-Côté's first piece together, The Yirri Birri Birds of the Yago Bago (2003), premiered at Dusk Dances, Withrow Park, and was described by the Toronto Star's Susan Walker as "by turns hilarious and gracefulŠa comic opera of an exotic mating ritual." Following their Lingua Franca (2006), commissioned by Dance Ontario for DanceWeekend, and presented at the Toronto International Dance Festival and the Kalanidhi International Dance Festival, critic Paula Citron noted, ¬"Nova Bhattacharya and Louis Laberge-Côté are about as good as contemporary dance gets." Of their 2006 Dusk Dances' commission, Romeo and Juliet before partingŠ, the National Post's Michael Crabb said: "It was left to ace co-choreographer/performers Nova Bhattacharya and Louis Laberge-Côté to raise the artistic ante several rungs with their wickedly sly duet." The work inspired filmmaker Jay Field to develop a Bravo!Fact piece with the artists, and it toured with Dusk Dances in 2008 for twenty performances in Chatham, Vancouver, Haliburton, Kingston, Deep River and Mindemoya.