Limitless Productions return to the Toronto Fringe Festival with another show – Sex, Bollywood and Other Lies — that provokes the edges of South Asian and contemporary dance. Here’s a six-question Q and A with co-choreographers Ashima Suri and Imran Mohammed and the company.
Lucy: Can you tell me a bit about Limitless’ history, what you’ve been up to lately?
Limitless: Limitless Productions began in 2007 as an inclusive contemporary dance company that aimed to include people of various abilities and disabilities in performance art to prompt dialogue. Over time we have evolved into an Indo-Contemporary Dance Theatre company that deals with various social and personal issues not just to prompt dialogue but also to encourage social change.
While earlier our dances and presentations dealt with topics of disabilities, hidden disabilities and personal stories of dealing with adversities, we have been expanding our scope to include taboo social issues such as abuse, bullying, gender politics, sexuality and essential topics such as the immigrant experience, communal unrest, self-acceptance.
With Sex, Bollywood and Other Lies (SBOL) we aim to sexually empower young women just as much as the men and to acknowledge their true feelings towards a sexual experience without feeling the guilt and shame associated with sex. This topic is especially relevant for the long-suffering and self-sabotaging South Asian community whose youth have been victimized by its own regressive attitude towards sex, sexuality and gender roles.
SBOL also deals with the lies we tell ourselves to avoid having to face our own realities and vulnerabilities in order to meet the expectations others put on us.
Lucy: How did the concept for this show evolve?
Limitless: It came from our individual personal experiences within the Bollywood-centric South Asian communities. While most of us were considered the “exceptions” and “outsiders” within our own community, this dance drama focuses on the expectations that the “insiders” or “those that belong” have to face on a day-to-day basis, regardless of how unreasonable those expectations may be.
In addition to parental and societal pressures, the South Asian youth (or youth from any other community) add unfair expectations upon themselves to conform to a certain look, persona, style, habit or pressure to achieve someone else’s dream and be “successful” much like their on-screen Bollywood idols.
In order to cope with these pressures, the youth begin to create a non-existent utopia in their own minds where the universe revolves around them, fostering a sense of entitlement, false pride and unrealistic notions of relationships, intimacy and romance.
In particular, the young women suffer from low-self esteem, low sense of self and disempowered because they are required to be in constant denial of their own wishes, desires and pleasures.
Lucy: What was your creative process like for Sex, Bollywood and Other Lies?
Limitless: Since Bollywood and its effects on life in conjunction with societal pressures together were being considered for this project, we began with brainstorming all the different incidents and experiences we had been through within this context.
We matched these incidents with the specific instances in Bollywood movies and songs that made these situations even more so effective. We then deliberated upon what should happen in an ideal situation where there was no judgement and humans were allowed to just be. From this scenario arose the resolution of the play.
The stories of the two main characters Raj and Trishna are based upon collective experiences and personalities of people we had come across in our lives and episodes from our own lives.
Lucy: What was the inspiration/approach to put your work on its feet in the Fringe Festival format?
Limitless: Limitless Productions focuses on many sensitive topics that are seen as taboo in the South Asian culture. Topics on bullying, sexuality, sex etc have generally not been highlighted in South Asian focused arts and entertainment industry. Because our topics are very cross cultural and our cast is diverse (in terms of background, age and sizes), we were inspired to submit to the Fringe.
Limitless Productions loves working with The Fringe Festival as it is inclusive of all works and is highly supportive in building emerging dance/theatre based companies and letting our stories be heard.
Lucy: How would you relate or describe your work to the more regular Fringe-goer who might not normally go see dance?
The beauty, subtlety and strength of contemporary ballet are perfectly complemented with the lyrical, symbolic , grounded and swift movements, gestures and poses of Indian Classical dances (Bharatanatyam and Kathak) to ensure that the specific idea, intent, message and feelings are fully conveyed to the audience.
We have placed each one of the dances just around the dialogue pieces and monologues so that there is a context for each dance. SBOL is a play punctuated with properly choreographed and rehearsed dance sequences. Each dance either helps move the plot along or helps convey a specific emotion or idea.
Since we deal with very serious, valid and important issues, we take no chances in ensuring that audiences with ANY background fully understand the intent and message of the show.
Lucy: What inspires you to keep making, creating, producing, performing?
Limitless: What inspires me to keep creating is knowing that a message is being conveyed and being heard. That a story is being told that could impact not only the artists but also the audience members. We continue to believe and focus on our art as being a way to create dialogue and change.
We love what we do as artists and to be able to create, choreograph and perform is an absolute privilege and gift. As producers, we are inspired by giving other artists the same opportunity to express themselves.
By: Ashima Suri
Company: Limitless Productions
Director: Ashima Suri
Choreographer: Ashima Suri
Guest Choreographer: Imran Mohammed
Show length: 60min. Warnings: Sexual Content
This performance is accessible for non-English speakers
July 05 11:00 PM
July 07 09:15 PM
July 09 06:30 PM
July 10 05:00 PM
July 11 07:30 PM
July 13 11:00 PM
July 14 04:00 PM
Genre(s): Dance, Drama
at-the-door tickets ($10)
advance tickets ($9 + $2 service charge)
Available up to three hours prior to the start of a performance: Online at www.fringetoronto.com
By Phone at 416-966-1062
July 2nd – 15th, daily, 9:30am – 6:30pm
In person at the Festival Box Office
July 4th – 15th, 12 – 10pm @ The Fringe Club, 581 Bloor St. W.
5 Pack ($45) – savings of $510 Pack ($82) – savings of $18! more info: www.fringetoronto.com