Nova Bhattacharya breathes rich life into the spectrum between classical bharatanatyam and contemporary dance. Ed Hanley is a master percussionist whose compositions for dance are recognized for their sensitivity and virtuosity. Their program includes Peggy Baker’s seminal 1991 duet for dancer and musician Sanctum, the acclaimed solo Calm Abiding made for Bhattacharya by José Navas, and two of Bhattacharya's own works. Featuring three solo tabla compositions played live by Hanley during the piece transitions, Incantations is an intimate and satisfying duet program of music and dance.

Incantations features lighting designs by Marc Parent and Roelof Peter Snippe and requires a fully equipped stage on which to perform. For a lower-tech, mixed repertoire evening, please refer to Sleight of Hand.

An alternative version of Incantations replaces Sanctum with Peggy Baker's 2000 creation for Bhattacharya Map of the Known World. This work is performed to recorded music and requires two rather than three people on tour.


Presenters with a password may view the following works that are part of the Incantations presentation:

Map of the Known World

Calm Abiding


Sanctum (1991)

Created as a duet for herself and percussionist Ahmed Hassan in 1991, Peggy Baker gifted this work to Nova as part of The Choreographer’s Trust project in 2003.

"A visual masterpiece of ceremonial movement and mysticism."

- The Winnipeg Free Press

"Bhattacharya was the contained goddess, casting her formidable power outward."

- Globe & Mail

maskura (2001)

Nova's signature creation, this piece is recognized as a ground-breaking work of contemporary bharatanatyam and has been performed at the Canada Dance Festival, Vancouver’s Dancing on the Edge and the Kalanidhi International Dance Festival.

"Bhattacharya is adept at transforming the unmistakable bharatanatyam dance vocabulary into contemporary dance. In Maskura, she is clothed in a severe widow's weeds, black dress. The title means "requiem" and the movement is a slow study of loss and remembrance."

- Globe & Mail

Aditi (2010)

Excerpted from Isolated Incidents, Aditi is a portrait of woman engrossed in a private ritual and her expression of confinment and release.

Calm Abiding (2006)

Choreographer José Navas daringly combines high emotion with strict formalism. This creation, which premiered at the 2006 Canada Dance Festival, consists of pure dance and complete abstraction, and is fuelled by the belief that the simplicity of movement can be more powerful than many words.

Calm Abiding is co-produced with the National Arts Centre and Compagnie Flak.

"Nova Bhattacharya's solo performance of Calm Abiding shows the power of simplicity ... the piece alternates between fast and slow segments, but throughout her performance, Bhattacharya exudes an entrancing personal intensity."

- eye Weekly

Map of the Known World (2000)

Peggy Baker's first foray outside the form of modern dance was Map of the Known World, commissioned by Nova Bhattacharya. Created with a bharatanatyam vocabulary that is pushed and manipulated into a new realm, the work incorporates a poem describing a lover's body as a country and the quest to find a home.

"A new piece she commissioned from Peggy Baker, Map Of The Known World, incorporated poetry, as in traditional Indian dance. An erotic poem by Bhattacharya, about exploring a lover's body, was recorded in English with overlays of a Bengali and an Urdu translation. In her boots, Bhattacharya couldn't have been more arresting had she been Evelyn Hart in Blundstones. They brought out the warrior in her and created an artful contrast with the tenderness of her words and gestures."

- The Toronto Star

"...Baker's intriguing [work] makes good use of Bhattacharya's interpretative skills. Clothed ... like an ancient-cum-modern warrior ... Bhattacharya executes Baker's deliberately slow, gestural dance patterns with the heavy tread of armies marching, while at the same time conveying a hope for something better"

- Globe & Mail