Performer and choreographer Krystal Kiran agrees to be part of the “third culture” straddling India and Canada


Actress, dancer, singer, choreographer and producer, Krystal Kiran knows what it’s like to feel fragmented. As a self-proclaimed child of the “third culture” – the daughter of Punjabi immigrants – she didn’t feel quite comfortable growing up in the largely white world of Penticton with her brother in the 1980s. and 1990.

Now a resident of West Vancouver, Kiran defines Third Culture as a space where people feel they don’t belong to any dominant cultural group because their parents came from another place with different traditions.

“We were born and raised in Canada, but our parents are Indians, for example,” Kiran said in a telephone interview with the Right. “So when we also go back to India, we are not considered Indians. We are considered foreigners.

Like many of South Asian ancestry, she was marked by discrimination in the 1980s. In her case, a dance teacher told her that another student’s mother did not want her in the same class. because of his Punjabi Sikh heritage. This prompted Kiran to quit for an entire year. She told her mother that she suffered a shoulder injury.

But Kiran was so lacking in dancing that she returned the following year, more determined than ever. As she looks back today, she believes this experience was a factor in her drive and dedication, which propelled her to amazing professional successes.

“I also cannot deny that the feeling of effort and accomplishment is also linked to racism and, therefore, to trauma,” Kiran added. “As I reflect on my career over the years, I am able to look back and see where and how it played out, both positively and negatively.”

This image of Krystal Kiran was captured in Kolkata, where she spent a lot of time learning classical Kathak dance.
Sid gosh

From PNE to Broadway

Three years after performing at PNE in Vancouver, Kiran made his professional debut at the age of 19 in the dance ensemble of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway production. Bombay Dreams. The legendary of Bollywood Farah khan choreographs the show.

Kiran has heard of Bombay Dreams when it was performed in London, and she jumped at the chance to audition when it came to New York. In addition to dancing, she was chosen as an understudy for the main character. The production also featured the music of the Indian composer AR Rahman, whose songs Kiran loved since he was a child.

“It was the first time I met him and I told him I was a big fan,” Kiran recalls.

She was later invited to perform in the Toronto theater production of the Lord of the Rings, in which Rahman teamed up with a Finnish folk group, Värttinä, to create the music. Rahman was at the piano while Kiran and other cast members sang songs in workshops.

Since then, Kiran has starred in Western movies and TV shows, and starred in major South Asian productions on and off Broadway. These include Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical, Mira Nair Monsoon wedding, and the Shaw Festival production of The orchard (after Chekhov), which was written by Serena Parmar. The latter was an adaptation of Chekhov The orchard, featuring a South Asian family from the Okanagan in the 1970s.

She was also a singer and soloist on Rahman’s Jai Ho World Tour, which was named after her 2009 Oscar-winning song composed for the film. Slumdog Millionaire. Laughing, Kiran said she felt she had really arrived when she was in a Skype conversation with Rahman and saw the letters “AR” flashing across her screen.

“It was really a monumental professional experience for me: working with him a few times, but above all being able to tour with him,” Kiran said.

Dreams on Fire Video / Latika Theme – Krystal Kiran

Video: Krystal Kiran sings “Dreams on Fire / Latika’s Theme” by Slumdog Millionaire on AR Rahman’s Jai Ho World Tour.

Welcoming the diaspora

While on tour, she sang in different languages, including Hindi and English, which sparked this familiar sense of fragmentation. Sometimes Kiran worried if her Hindi was too accentuated and if she was not Indian enough to sing Rahman’s works.

But after performing in places like Texas, which has a large Indian expatriate community, she had a revelation: there wouldn’t have been a world tour without the Diaspora. And this diaspora must be cherished, whether in Singapore, Europe or Vancouver.

“Feeling ‘thirsty’ or ashamed that we weren’t enough… I was like, ‘You know what? No! I’m going to call some bullshit on this and say that the fact that we can straddle two types of cultures is our superpower. “

Kiran plans to bring this post to a free song and dance lesson on Zoom as part of this year. Monsoon Performing Arts Festival. It will be based on a piece by the British composer Nitin Sawhney.

“It explores these classic Indian sounds beautifully along with other forms of music that you wouldn’t necessarily think of putting together,” Kiran said. “We’re going to do an introduction to the voice work and learn the actual lyrics of the song, which are in Hindi. Then we will also merge the movement with that.

Kiran enjoys Bollywood music and movies, but she also feels that many westerners don’t always appreciate her many layers. For example, some Bollywood films, like that of Sanjay Leela Bhansali Devdas, present a classical Indian dance, like the Kathak movements that she performs. Not all flashy modern line dances performed in wacky settings. And Bollywood films helped to help him connect with his Indian culture in his youth.

When David Adams, Krystal Kiran and Shawn Ahmed starred in Of marriage and men, which was directed by Philip Akin in 2018, was the first time a Shaw Festival play has featured a South Asian cast without denying their cultural heritage.
Emily Cooper / Shaw Festival

Parents gave their support

Kiran admitted that she would never have been able to pursue a career in arts and culture without the strong support of her parents. Her father, Malkit, grew up in Kolkata, a center of art, culture and progressive thought.

Her mother, Jas, was nine years old when she left a village in the Punjab for Canada. According to Kiran, her mother wanted to take dance lessons but never got the chance.

“She put me in ballet in Penticton when I was three, which was completely out of the community standard,” Kiran revealed. “So I feel really lucky that my parents, in their own way, enjoyed the arts even though they didn’t necessarily practice it themselves. “

his company, Kiran’s House, is in partnership with the South Asian Arts Society, which produces the Monsoon Festival, on an ambitious educational project next year to help children of South Asian descent in the Lower Mainland reconnect with their roots. According to Kiran, this will take a third culture approach to dance movement and wellness.

The goal is to create programs that help people from different backgrounds forge connections between mind, body and emotions through movement and “shameless cultural expression”. And that, Kiran hopes, will help them deal with unresolved trauma in a safe space, regardless of race, cultural background, gender, sexual orientation or religion.

This is not Kiran’s first foray into education. She produced, choreographed and starred in an evocative dance short, “Thy Beauty’s Doom,” in honor of Maple Batalia, an artistically talented 19-year-old Surrey student who was murdered by a former boyfriend.

Video of your beauty’s Doom

Video: In “Thy Beauty’s Doom”, Krystal Kiran offers an artistic tribute to Maple Batalia through dance.

The film was inspired by the paintings of Batalia and two sonnets by Shakespeare, and if people pay enough attention, they will spot an image of Guru Nanak, the equal-minded founder of the Sikh faith.

Profits went to Maple Batalia Memorial Fund, which offers scholarships to students of the Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Kiran said her professional experiences have put her in a good position to share her ideas with the next generation to help them appreciate their heritage. She even plans to offer a week is going (service without waiting for reward) class for seniors where they will sing and dance old Bollywood hits.

For her, it is important to remember that all of this is taking place on unceded indigenous lands.

“When we move away from colonized approaches, I think we really have the opportunity and the capacity to heal,” Kiran said. “While I have some ideas on how to approach this, I also know and understand that the learning process will be continuous and evolving. “

Video of Khwaja Mere Khwaja – Jodhaa Akbar | ARRahman | Hrithik Roshan | Aishwarya Rai

Video: Enjoy one of AR Rahman’s Sufi-inspired classics, “Khwaja Mere Khwaja” from the 2008 epic film Jodhaa Akbar.


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