Photo: Michael Slobodiam
Roger Sinha is a creator of hybrid worlds, the result of his Indian cultural heritage and his experience living in Britain and Canada. Born in London to an Armenian mother and an Indian father, from a young age Roger Sinha was immersed in British culture and was “closer to fish’n chips than to curry”. When he was eight years old the family moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The newfound culture collided with the two others and started his quest for identity, the source of his work as an artist.
A choreographer and dancer, he founded Montreal-based Sinha Danse in 1991, and the story of the man and that of his company are intertwined. His career as a choreographer began with the solo Burning Skin in 1992, which was warmly received by audiences and led to a number of successful collaborations and dance projects. In 1996 he was awarded Bonnie Bird Creation funding to choreograph a new work for the Transitions Dance Company at the Laban Centre in London.
That same year he was commissioned by The Contemporary Dancers of Winnipeg to create a sextet entitled Benches, inspired by Albert Albee’s The Zoo Story. A new version of the piece was presented in 2007, and his Loha/Thok double bill was part of the Agora de la Danse dance season in 2001-2002. In 2005 Thok was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore award in Toronto. Loha was the result of collaboration with the Canadian dancer and choreographer Natasha Bakht, and they worked together again on Thread, created in 2007. The 2004 sextet Apricot Trees Exist was also featured at Agora de la Danse.
He recently developed an interest in video art and new technologies, and that passion was expressed in the solo Zeros & Ones (2008), a piece that featured film and interactive technologies. In 2009 Zeros & Ones, Quebasian Rhapsody and Burning Skin were presented at five different cities in India: Bangalore, Ahmedabad, New Dehli, Kolkata and Sattal. Roger Sinha has directed two short films, The Barber of Bangalore (filmed entirely in India) and Haters 'n Baiters: The Culture Collision, which won the popular vote for the Radio Canada International Roots competition in April 2010.
In 2008 Sinha was asked to co-choreograph Tono, created and directed by Sandra Laronde, the artistic director of the Toronto dance company Red Sky. Tono was selected for that city’s Luminato festival in 2009 and also for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010, and went on to performances at the world’s fair in Shanghai in May 2010.
In his recent piece A Matter of Life and Breath (2011), Roger Sinha continues his research with interactive technologies, whereby the movements of the six dancers trigger sounds and images.
Founded by Kiya and Ziya Tabassian, Constantinople has been exploring the oral traditions of Mediterranean cultures and written music from the Middle Ages for the past decade. Their musicological research is reworked to create something new and invigorating. Some of their projects not only combine the repertoire and musical practice of several different countries in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but also explore various New World musics. This mixing and mingling of elements that might at first glance seem unrelated have become their trademark, attracting an ever-growing audience curious to discover the particular colours and shapes of each new project they present.
“Sincere, erudite and sensitive, the music of Constantinople hits home. They are artists who truly merit a five-star rating.” (Le Devoir, Montreal, Canada)
Constantinople is regularly invited to perform at international festivals, and their music is acclaimed by audiences, critics and professional musicians. The group has played many prestigious venues, including the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence (France), the Fez Festival of Sacred Music in Morocco, Festival d'Ile de France (Paris), Onassis Centre (Athens), Festival de Mexico en el Centro historico, Festival de Lanaudière (Quebec) and MusicFest Vancouver.
The musicians often collaborate with renowned artists on their own personal projects, and also to pursue their desire to integrate music from diverse traditions and cultures. They have performed with the singers Françoise Atlan, Savina Yannatou, Rosario La Tremendita and Ghada Shbeir, the Greek group En Chordais, the virtuoso of the Afghan rubab Homayoun Sakhi and the Corsican polyphonic ensemble Barbara Furtuna.
Constantinople has performed in France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Greece, Lebanon, Iran, Cyprus, Morocco, Canada and Mexico, and every year presents a season of 3 or 4 new works in Montreal. Needless to say, their profile and reputation are constantly on the rise. Most of their concerts have been recorded and broadcast by Radio-Canada, and some have also been broadcast to European audiences via radio and television retransmissions.
Constantinople recorded 10 albums with the ATMA label, and has just signed an agreement with Analekta, which released the album Premiers Songes last March. At the 2010 Opus gala, the group received the Conseil Québécois de la Musique award for best concert of the year for El Grito, El Silencio and Premiers Songes.
Constantinople and Sinhas Danse have benefited from artistic residencies at both the Segal Centre for Performing Arts and Place des Arts for the creation of this new work.