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Ensemble Topaz is a Toronto-based music and dance company dedicated to performing traditional and contemporary cultural forms from South and Central Asian traditions. Conceived collectively by dance artist Paromita Kar and composer Mike Anklewicz, Ensemble Topaz performs a variety of dance and musical traditions, currently focusing on Afghan, Central Asian and Rajasthani cultural forms.

Ensemble Topaz has performed at numerous events in Toronto, Ontario and beyond. Highlight performances include the Pop-Up Artist series at the Aga Khan Museum (2019), Toronto International Dance Festival (2018, 2017, 2016), TD Songs of Summer in Oakville (2018), Canada Day celebrations at Yonge-Dundas Square hosted by Community Folk Arts Council of Toronto (2018), Culture Bridge Festival (2018, 2017), Niagara Folk Arts Festival (2018), Ontario Heritage Festival at Ontario Place (2017), Canadian National Exhibition International Stage (2016), Taste of the Hill in Richmond Hill (2018) and Klezmer Brunch at the Free Times Cafe.

Highlights of 2018 included the unveiling of a new music-dance collaborative work “Jashn-e-Shab” at the Dancemakers Studio Theatre in Toronto, as part of “Nightfall,” hosted by Nexus D9 and Kathak Bandi and has subsequently performed the work at their 2018 concert “Pomegranate Garden.” That concert, produced in conjunction with the Noor Cultural Centre in Toronto, marked their first international collaboration of 2018 as Topaz joined forces with visiting dancer Akmaral Kainazarova from Kazakhstan. Ensemble Topaz also joined with Iranian setar player Fariba Hedayati in the concert “Hands in Harmony” along with Toronto-based percussionist Araz Nayeb Pashayee and Burlington, Ontario-based setar player Hamoon Zamani at the Small World Music Centre in Toronto.

Ensemble Topaz has also conducted several outreach and educational workshops with students and the public as part of Ontario Culture Days at the Toronto Public Library in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and presented a dance-music-costume exhibition for South Asian Homelands Festival at Toronto Public Library in 2018.

The Artists of Ensemble Topaz

Paromita Kar – dance

Photo credit: Captive Camera - Toronto Sports & Event Photography
Photo credit: Captive Camera – Toronto Sports & Event Photography

Paromita Kar is the first to complete a PhD degree in Dance Studies in Canada (York University, Toronto). She is the recipient of Canada Council Grant to Professional Dancers (2015),  Shastri Indo-Canadian Fine Arts Fellowship for Dance (2012), and the Lawrence Heisey Award for Fine Arts for Dance discipline (York University, 2009). In addition to classical Indian dance, she is also a member of the Saucy Tarts, a Toronto-based nouveau can-can troupe which performs frequently across Toronto and Montreal, Ekakshara Dance Creations, which performs traditional and contemporary South Asian dance work as well as Bollywood, and Dilan Dance Company, which performs traditional and contemporary dances from Turkey, Middle East and Central Asia.  She is also the lead dancer in Ensemble Topaz, a Toronto-based music and dance ensemble dedicated to performing an original fusion of arts from Turkish, Jewish, Romani and Balkan traditions.

While performing actively, Paromita is also actively involved in dance research and scholarship. She has presented her research at conferences such as the Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS) at Berkeley, California, and Peabody Institute, Maryland, the International Council for Traditional Music Conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, and Initiative for Romani Music Conference in New York City, Recombinant Creativity Conference at OCAD in Toronto.  She has also been published variously in international dance publications.

Mike Anklewicz – saxophone and clarinet

Mike Anklewicz is a versatile musician who performs, composes, arranges, and teaches in many different areas of music, ranging from classical to jazz to klezmer to the avant-garde. He has recorded and performed with distinguished artists in all of these genres. Mike leads KlezFactor, a “klezmer-fusion” band that plays both traditional and original compositions fusing Eastern European Jewish folk music with jazz, rock and classical musical techniques.

KlezFactor has garnered international acclaim for their three albums. “Europa,” the band’s latest CD was released in the summer of 2016 after recording in Germany and Canada. “Klezmachine” has topped university radio charts in Ontario, and has also been played in Canada, the US, Argentina, France, Portugal, Spain and Russia. Mike can also be heard on Prague-based band Eggnoise’s latest album, Yolk, and Ondřej Galuška’s solo album, O.G. and the Odd Gifts, released in the Czech Republic.

As an active freelancer in Toronto, Mike has performed in some of Toronto’s top venues including Massey Hall, The Rex, and Harbourfront Centre. Mike has been on faculty at the Royal Conservatory of Music as their saxophone instructor since 2005.

Mike holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, where he studied composition and saxophone performance. He also holds a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts in saxophone performance. He has completed his PhD in Ethnomusicology from York University in Toronto, Canada with a dissertation entitled Musical Hybridities and the Klezmer Revival.

Angelica Marrett – dance

Photo credit: Sheraine Eccleston
Photo credit: Sheraine Eccleston

Angelica has been studying Flamenco dance under Esmeralda Enrique for the past 14 years.  She has performed with Fiesta Flamenco at numerous event. She also spent two  years performing with Sanskriti Arts Ensemble, with whom she performed at various events, including the Sherbrooke Festival du Monde in Quebec. Angelica has a love of vintage dance, and following this passion, in 2010 she co-founded Disco Revolution, a small dance group dedicated to keeping alive the funk and groove of 70’s Disco dance.  She also enjoys Charleston/vintage Jazz and 60s style  Go-Go dance, and dances  the neo-cancan with the Saucy Tarts. She has been a dancer with Ekakshara Dance Creations since 2014.