Janak Khendry is such a multi-dimensional and versatile person that one cannot but be mesmerized in his company. A man whose mission is to touch the hearts of people whether through dance, music, art or culture, or just by the positive vibes of his presence, Janak comes across as an extremely pleasing and special person.
The initiative to invite Janak Kendry to Kuwait is part of Al Mulla International Exchange’s customer engagement program which in the past has witnessed several free cultural and social events.
Janak hails from a family that traces their roots for around 11 generations, but none from the lineage was ever interested in arts. It was little surprise then that when Janak announced his intention to be a dancer it took the family by storm. A young persevering Janak, negotiated a deal for himself where he would continue his studies but pursue his real passion in dance.
Learning Bharatanatyam from some of the most accomplished Gurus of his time, and from the very birthplace of the dance form in Tamil Nadu, Janak remarks, “I have spent the best years of my life there.”
His passion for arts took him to USA where he learnt and studied sculpting, modern dance and Italian renaissance and art history, and soon made North America his home. “Incidences and coincidences have always been part of my life,” he remarks.
A sculptor and art historian, Janak has also mastered four distinct and difficult dance forms of Bharatanatyam, Manipuri, Khatak and Satrriya; a remarkable feat achieved by only a few. A very distinguished dance career spanning over 50 years, and more than 1000 performances in different parts of the world, make Khendry a living legend.
He has given performances for two past Indian presidents, and for the Vice-President of United States. Janak is also the recipient of several very prestigious grants and awards.
In 1979, he decided to set up the Janak Khendry Dance Company in Toronto; the rest as they say is history. The main mission of the company was to create and promote excellent dance works and through them develop international human understanding.
But Janak also sought to reach deep into the roots of Indian culture, to find philosophical subjects that had a universal message, and create dance works based on them. This led him to do research and choreograph dance performances with messages and themes from Indian culture. In 1994 he did a dance on a Jain theme for the first time ever on the Life of Mahavir. From then onward, there has been no looking back. The Upanishads, Gayathriri Mantra, Kaal, Ganga etc.
“Each work is about three years of research,” he pointed out; the Gayathiri Mantra theme being a deep subject was among the most challenging having done over 37 performances in six countries. Janak takes his work very seriously and holds himself responsible that the audience should leave with some message; otherwise “I feel I have failed in my endeavor,”
In his two performances in Kuwait, Ganga and Kaal, Janak’s dance rendition on Ganga had the audience captivated.
Detailing the entire journey of Ganga from birth until the eventual death of the river, Janak conveys a message that leaves the audience soul searching. In his rendition of Kaal (Time), Janak conveys a clear yet simple message of hope to the world. A creative and colorful performance, the troupe impresses with their skill and ingenuity.
Having taken Indian dance to an international level in Canada, his dance company also helps young emerging and established dancers of all disciplines and serves the dance community and the Canadian community at large.
What keeps him motivated in his 70’s is something Janak says “deep inside something urges you it is never enough,” and when you ask him what next he retorts ‘Paradise Lost’, his next rendition, rather than his future plans.
A people’s person he says, “I love people and always see others as good human beings unless proven otherwise,” and summarizes the interview with a piece of advice from his teacher, “In art you cannot compromise on honesty and integrity, my teacher taught me to be a good human being, if you have something share it, by giving and sharing you do not lose.”