A moment of contemplation during the ‘cenTred’ performance – Photo Credit: Fatima Haji (2014)


In September 2014, I had the opportunity to explore how performances can be designed as intercultural learning experiences. I joined a small creative team to design a multi-media dance piece entitled, ‘cenTred’ in honour of the opening of the Ismaili Centre in Toronto. This magnificent community space is one of six in the world; the other five are located in London, Vancouver, Lisbon, Dushanbe and Dubai. Each Ismaili Centre enlivens the values of Islam within a unique cultural context.

Through ‘cenTred’, we aimed to express the shared value of pluralism that serves as an important dimension of our Canadian identity. Through concepts of space, light and shape, dancers embodied structural and cultural elements of each Ismaili Centre. We hoped that the performance would allow audience members to reflect on the harmonious relationship among architecture, nature, and dance. The performance included contemporary/interpretive movement; visual media; props such as wooden planks, lights, large elastics and sticks; and a musical medley.

In 2015, the ‘cenTred’ team was invited to design a performance for the opening of the Aga Khan Park. In this piece, we embodied the central elements of the park, including the modern interpretation of the Char Bagh, or Persian garden, and the diverse ways in which the community enlivens this beautiful public space.

Creating our own Char Bagh during at the opening of the Aga Khan Park. Photo Credit: Fatima Haji (2015)

The view of the Ismaili Centre Toronto from the Aga Khan Museum across the park