Kathak dancer, creator and educator, Rina Singha was born in Kolkata India in 1937. She trained with Kathak master Sambu Maharaj (1910-1970) at Delhi’s Shriram Bhartiya Kala Kendra. In 1960 Rina moved to London and toured Europe both as a soloist and with the internationally acclaimed company of Ram Gopal (1912-2003). She moved to Toronto, Ontario in 1965.
An elegant and powerful performer, Rina is a creator of conceptually complex choreographic work. She was one of the first traditional Indian dancers to interpret Christian themes in Kathak. Her work explores women’s experiences, already an element of the genre and specialty of her guru Maharaj. She is also knowledgeable about Christian and Indian art and frequently incorporates it into her sets and costumes.
Instrumental to Rina’s art is her role as a teacher. From 1971-1976 she taught dance theory and history at York University. She has a Master’s in Education and developed A Cultural Approach to Learning, a multiculturalism-focused educational program for school visits. In the 1970s, inspired by her daughter Vinita’s deafness, Rina was also one of Canada’s first dance artists to run programming especially for deaf children. She founded two teaching institutions: the Kathak Institute of Toronto in 1982 and the Rina Singha Kathak Dance Organization in 1992.
Rina is also an arts advocate. In the 1960s, she faced a Canadian cultural scene that exoticized and trivialized non-Western dance forms. Rina has worked extensively to earn traditional Indian dance forms a place on Canadian stages. She was a consultant with the Canada Council, headed multicultural programs with the Ontario Arts Council, and from 2002-2005 was the chair of the Dance committee for the Toronto Arts Council.
Rina’s work has won her much recognition. She has received the Hindu Federation of Canada Award for Dance (1989), the Dance Ontario Lifetime Achievement Award (1991), the DuMaurier Arts Award (1994), the William Kilbourn Award from the Toronto Arts Council Foundation (2000), the Galilean International Juried Award for Excellence in Performing Arts (2006), the Grant Community Achievers 2008 award, and was inducted into the Dance Collection Danse Hall of Fame in 2018..
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Dance Collection Danse would like to acknowledge that the land on which we work is the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Métis, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. It has been a site of human activity, including dance, for at least 15,000 years and we are grateful to all the caretakers, both recorded and unrecorded, of this land and of Turtle Island. Today, the meeting place of Toronto is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and dance in the community, on this territory.