"Kathak is like a 'well.' The more we submerge ourselves into it, the more we begin to realize how deep it is. Even one lifetime is not enough to learn." (Smt. Usha Sharma, artistic director of Manohar Performing Arts)
Palak Dhimān is a Canadian Indian classical kathak dance artist of the Jaipur gharana. She was born in Kenya and raised in Canada from the age of 2 by her parents of Punjabi descent. Palak began learning kathak in 1993 from Smt. Shobha Kauser at Pracheen Kalakendra in India. She continued her formal training in Canada under Smt. Usha Sharma in Winnipeg, (founder of Jhankaar School of Dance, and artistic director of Manohar Performing Arts of Canada), from whom she continues to receive advanced training in theory, choreography, and performance.
In 2013, Palak completed her Master of Arts in Sociology, exploring the role that Indian classical dance plays in the identity formation of second generation Canadians of South Asian origin(s), for which she was awarded grant funding from the University of Manitoba, the Province of Manitoba, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). For her thesis she received the Outstanding Graduate Student award from the Canadian Sociological Association (2013).
As a community-based artist, Palak has participated in a variety of local and community events across Canada and has performed for festivals such as Folkorama (Winnipeg), Festival of India (Thunder Bay), the Great India Festival (Ottawa), India Day (Ottawa), Asian Heritage Month (Winnipeg, Ottawa), and the NextGen Multi-Arts Festival presented by the Kabir Centre for Arts and Culture (Montreal). Her keen interest in advocating for Indian classical arts in Canada led her to participate as a panelist in conferences such as Sampradaya Dance Creation's Momentum Series in Ottawa (2018), where she debuted as a professional artist in the Emerging Artist Showcase presented by Upasana (Ottawa), and Manohar Performing Arts of Canada (Winnipeg). She has also performed at the residence of the high commission of India in Ottawa. In February 2023, Palak was invited to perform at the prestigious Taj Mohotsav festival in Agra, India, which received a positive mention in the Dainik Jagran newspaper of Agra.
As a professional dance artist, Palak has been in many ensemble full-length stage productions with Manohar Performing Arts of Canada in Winnipeg (2008-2023), Upasana in Ottawa (2016), and has toured Canada with Usha Dance Ensemble of Edmonton (2022). She presented her first choreography onstage as a co-choreographer in Manohar Performing Arts' production The Eagle and the Lotus (2019). In 2020, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Palak co-created and released her first independent dance video, telling the story of the pandemic through dance. In 2021, her dance film, "Kathaka: Storyteller" was selected to be a part of the National Art Centre's (NAC) Capsule project which was presented online alongside the works of 59 other selected artists. Palak is also a co-founder of Manohar East collective through which the collective's first grant-funded project "Visual Translation" (2021) was released. This project conveyed, through 3 distinct dance styles, how emotions can translate to movements.
Palak continues to deepen her artistic training in Kathak, in taal vidya (foundations of rhythm) with renowned tabla artist Hiren Chate, and as of 2023 has begun learning the Natya Shastra Karana movements, under the acclaimed multi-talented artist Vithya Arasu. Palak continues to perform and teach Kathak through workshops and a regular curriculum. From 2022-2023 she traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal and collaborated with Y-Stand Dance School to develop their first kathak program and curriculum which continues to run today.
As a fairly new member of the Vancouver arts community, Palak's goal is to engage with art as a medium to share, contribute and communicate critical and meaningful ideas with broader audiences, to help increase awareness of Kathak as a major art form in Canada, and to connect the classical arts with the public.
My aim as a dance educator, is to help create a warm, respectful, and inclusive environment were we can collaborate and learn from each other about the world around us through the lens of this beautiful, rich, and deep art form of kathak
Palak Dhimān is a Kathak dance educator with over 20 years of teaching experience. She has taught various workshops across Canada, and has helped teach kathak classes at Jhankaar School of Dance (Winnipeg), Upasana (Ottawa), as well as helped design a comprehensive program at Y-Stand Dance School (Kathmandu, Nepal). Since 2022 she began teaching at her own school and now brings this experience to Vancouver.
Through her years of studying Kathak and its related art forms, Palak has desgined her own pedagogy and curriculum that focus on bringing structure to Kathak training, not often found in Canada and even as compared to the other Indian classical dance forms. This pedagogy centres around understanding as opposed to memorization. By focusing on theory and practice as intertwined, and by emphasizing Kathak’s relationship with all the other Indian classical art forms, students gain a holistic understanding and in-depth training in Kathak. This pedagogy is aimed towards guiding students to feel empowered with their foundational learning that would give them the tools to continue to explore this deep, beautiful and complex art form throughout their lives.
Upcoming performance with Manohar Performing Arts of Canada. A full length dance drama production featuring the Indian classical dance forms of Bharatnatyam and Kathak with music composed by acclaimed artist Sudhir Narain of Agra, India.