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Border Crossings II: Mesma Belsare & Sylvat Aziz

Border Crossings II: Mesma Belsare & Sylvat Aziz
UTSC Leila Lee Browne Theatre
Time: Nov 3rd, 2:00 pm End: Nov 3rd, 4:00 pm
Interest Categories: Women/Gender, Women & Gender Studies (FAS), South Asian, Sociology (FAS), Religion, Study of (FAS), Political Science, Philosophy (UTSC), Philosophy (FAS), Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations (FAS), Music, Faculty of , English (UTSC), English (FAS), East Asian Studies (FAS), Drama, Theatre, Performance Studies (FAS), Diaspora/Transnational, Critical Theory, Comparative Literature (FAS), Communications, Art (FAS), Anthropology (FAS), 2000-
A Conversation featuring Mesma Belsare and Sylvat Aziz

Border Crossings: An Erotic Affair?

Event II:  South Asians in the Arts: Diaspora, Alliances, and Collaborations across Communities

10 am – 12 noon                                                                                                                  

Four award winning South Asian artists, writers, performers, educators, administrators and practitioners will provide an insider’s view on the connections between community, arts practice and administration, and alliances with Aboriginal and other racialized artists and communities in Toronto and beyond.

Lata Pada, the artistic director of SAMPRADAYA Dance Creations has created one of Canada’s leading and progressive dance organizations. She has initiated unique arts learning, community outreach, cultural leadership and mentorship projects for performing artists. She has trained a generation of dancers who perform professionally on international stages. Lata is an articulate speaker and workshop leader - through her art, she has served youth, new immigrants and marginalized communities. Lata is the recipient of Pravasi Bharatiya Samman by the President of India, the highest civilian honor for non-resident Indians. In addition she was honoured with the Order of Canada in January 2009 and holds the distinction of being the first South Asian artist to receive this award.                                                                                                              

Seema Jethalal, the coordinator at Regent Park Cultural Centre, has been dedicated to the arts since birth and is committed to cultivating Toronto's arts and culture scene and inspiring social change in the process. Seema plays a vital role in Arts organizations and is a member of the Civic Action's Emerging Leaders Network,  Artreach Toronto's Community Advisory Committee and the Neighbourhood Arts Network Advisory Committee. Seema recently transitioned out of her role as Managing Director of Manifesto Community Projects – a non-profit arts organization that was recently presented with the Toronto Arts Foundation's "Arts for Youth" award and the Toronto Community Foundation's "Vital Ideas" award.
Noora Sagarwala  has been working in the performing, literary and urban arts for the last 12 years and has been involved in the planning and execution of 14 performing arts festivals. Noora has held positions at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, the National Arts Centre, the Canada Dance Festival, the CDF’s urban arts festival (HIP HOP 360) and the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Noora joined Manifesto Community Projects in June 2011 as its Managing Director, and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the CanAsian International Dance Festival and the National Committee of the Emerging Arts Professional Network
Nisha Ahuja, an actor and theatre artist writer, and  youth workshop designer/facilitator, graduated from York University with a Specialized Honours in Theatre (Creative Ensemble) with a minor in International Development. She has performed and created a range of classical, contemporary, and original work in Canada, the Netherlands, and India.  Nisha was an actor with the Resident Acting Company of the National Art Centre for 2009-2010 season. Nisha wrote Cycle of a Sari and developed her one-woman show Yoga Cannibal. As an arts educator, Nisha has had the privilege of working with a diverse range of youth in Canada and India with renowned theatre companies, urban and rural schools, as well as NGOs and grassroots community organizations.

2– 4 pm         

In Conversation: Mesma Belsare and Sylvat Aziz                                                                                                 
Two artists, Mesma Belsare and Sylvat Aziz, interweave gender, sexuality, culture and artistic practice in complex ways as they confront dislocation and a longing for relocation.

Mesma S. Belsare is described by the New York Times as ëa tour de force, a true act of transcendence and religious immersion’ and by The Dance Current Magazine as ‘a consummate dancer, as mesmerizing as staring into the heart of a fire’. She is a Boston-based dancer, choreographer, actor, visual artist and educator and belongs to a generation of young dancers in the South Asian Diaspora who have created a unique niche for themselves in the realm of classical Indian arts, while expanding their repertory in the contemporary idiom. She is formally trained in Bharatanatyam (South Indian Classical dance) and Carnatic vocal by Sri Shankar Hombal and Padmashri Geeta Chandran. Mesma’s work is based on concepts of gender, gender-identity and sexuality and the classical tradition of Nayaki Bhava (the voice of the female protagonist) in traditional Bharatanatyam.

Sylvat Aziz holds Masters degrees in literature and in art. Her studies began in Lahore, Pakistan then on to Pratt Institute, New York, and Concordia University, Montreal. She has exhibited sculpture and painting at Venice; Istanbul; Bradford, England; New Delhi and Lahore, as well as many major public and university galleries in Canada. Her research is focused on problems of representation and the politics of space in early Islamic art and architecture and the influences, conflicts and compromises addressed therein. She currently teaches at Queen's University, Department of Art, Kingston, Ontario.

This event is jointly sponsored by:

Border Crossings: An Erotic Affair is a series of events and exhibitions that respond to the JHI's 2011-2012 theme, Location/Dislocation, from a feminist perspective.  Artists and researchers this year will be coming from the USA, Pakistan and Canada and programming will be  happening at two campus sites at UTSC and CWSE, OISE/U of T. Connections, intersections and differences in these programs and people include gender, race, culture and media dealing with cultural genocide, women and cancer, gender/trans issues, and more.

The artists Sylvat Aziz, Meral Pasha, and Vicky Moufawad-Paul (Ontario) live cross border from Mesma Belsare (Boston). In complex ways, they interweave gender, sexuality and artistic practice as they confront how dislocation, and their longing for relocation, is mapped on their bodies: for Belsare it is the dynamics of gender in dance, for Aziz a cultural critique, and for Moufawad-Paul and Pasha the complexities around gender displacement, and cultural loss. This project intends to bring Belsare, Aziz, Pasha and Moufawad-Paul to present for 2011-12 at the St. George and Scarborough campuses of the University of Toronto. This series gives both university sites ongoing engagement with issues of location/dislocation. University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) participating faculty plan to use this in a variety of ways for curricular support, and the Centre for Women‘s Studies (CWSE) and WIAprojects at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/UT at St. George campus will take advantage of Aziz and Pasha to highlight their 2011-12 programming. A year-end summary of this series will be as a Locations/Dislocations Roundtable on April 10th at 12 noon in Room 2-225 at the CWSE OISE, 252 Bloor Street W.

For other events in this series, see listings at

  • 26 September 2011, 7-9 pm: Forum and Screening, Vicky Moufawad (170 St. George Street, room 100)
  • 5 March 2012, 5:30-7 pm:  Exhibition Opening, Sylvat Aziz: Sisyphus & Other Personal Matters (252 Bloor Street West, 2nd floor hallway)
  • 2 April 2012, 5:30-7 pm:  Exhibition Opening, Meral Pasha: Liminal Spaces: Inside the Folds of a Map (252 Bloor St. West, 2nd floor hallway)
  • 10 April 2012, 12-1:30 pm: Brownbag Roundtable on the series Border Crossings: An Erotic Affair (252 Bloor St. West, 2nd floor)

All events are free and open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

For more information, contact

Download series flyer [pdf]

Download event flyer [pdf]

Dowload press release for this event [pdf]

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