Priyanka Tope

  • Classical
  • Collective Creation
  • Experimental
  • Improv
  • Lyrical
  • Performance Art
  • Storytelling
  • World Music

Priyanka Tope is a multi-disciplinary artist - an emerging Kathak dancer and choreographer, and Hindustani classical vocalist. Kathak is a classical Indian dance form, originating from Northern India. Both art forms have influence from Indian culture and the Mughal empire, many years ago. The word "kathak" derives from the Sanskrit word "Katha" which means story. As such, Priyanka aims to use her technical skills as a dancer, choreographer and singer to tell stories that are meaningful to her, to help her connect better to her audience. Priyanka has learned Kathak from Parul Shah for over 10 years, a disciple of Kumudini Lakhia. Priyanka has learned vocal music from Narendra Datar in Toronto.

Though Priyanka has deeply studied these ancient art forms, Priyanka's goal as an artist and storyteller is to tell stories that she can relate to. Being born and raised in North America, Priyanka's perspective and experiences are different from those of Kathak practitioners in India. While Priyanka does not intend to step outside of the form, she often finds herself unable to use the codified form (as it was passed down to her) to express parts of her stories. As such, Priyanka experiments extensively with movement inspired by experiences around her, from nature, and from current global events.

As an emerging choreographer, Priyanka has created two works thus far. Her first work "Chasing Rainbows" was a five minute solo set to Anoushka Shankar's recorded music (daughter of the late Ravi Shankar). Chasing Rainbows was features as part of Arzoo Dance Theatre's "Choreographer's Choice" and London Ontario's Spring Festival in 2021. The piece was showcased as part of the June 2021 "PROSPECTS" series by Aeries Korper.

Priyanka recently premiered her latest work - untitled - on April 7, 2024 as part of Sampradaya Dance Creation's "Horizon Series". This work is an original composition, with original music set by Priyanka in collaboration with Saskia Rao de Has on cello (composer) and Tejas Tope on tabla (drums). Priyanka has also added her own vocals to the music. The solo work is a 35 minute exploration of humanity's ability to find empathy for others - both when one has not experienced the same pain, and when someone has experienced that pain. The work questions whether humanity can truly be empathetic and take action without having walked in a victim's shoes. Priyanka continues to work on this solo work and is actively seeking opportunities to showcase chapters of the work, and the full length work.

Priyanka is a board member of Aeries Korper as Treasurer. Currently, Priyanka faces a major barrier in getting opportunities nearby, since there is little to no Kathak community in Hamilton. Priyanka hopes to change that by offering classes in Waterdown and the greater Hamilton starting in 2024.


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