Eifman’s Anna Karenina ballet mesmerizes

by Shannon Skinner on April 24, 2015

Tonight, I saw a mesmerizing performance of the ballet, Anna Karenina, choreographed by Boris Eifman, St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet. The ballet is based on Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, considered the greatest novel ever written, and is a psychological drama revolving around the love triangle of heroine Anna Karenin and her husband and lover. It is a story that is intensely filled with passion, leading to rejection and, ultimately, self-destruction.

Tolstoy's Anna Karenina ballet by Eifman

The style of dance combines classical ballet with modern technique, giving it quite a unique, creative expression. Somber, yet passionate, elegant and stylish, Eifman’s Anna Karenina captured my attention from start to finish. In fact, it had me sitting on the edge of my seat during the final act. Bravo!

Principle Roles:

Anna: Natalia Povoroznyuk
Vronsky: Sergey Volobuev
Karenin: Dmitry Fisher

About Eifman Ballet:

When founding St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet in 1977, Eifman broke the rules and resisted the trends to develop his own personal form of expression that combines classical and contemporary dance and theatre. He has won all the highest awards in the arts in Russia, including the People’s Artist of Russia, and has been honoured with France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. “This production leaves one applauding the Eifman company for its passionate integrity, and Eifman himself for a gift for showmanship,” stated The Daily Telegraph, London

*photo credit: Eifman Ballet


In Pictures: Rongali Bihu Festival in Assam, India

by Shannon Skinner on April 20, 2015

SHANNON’S TRAVEL BAG: travel tips for women

Shannon travels to India. This is part 2 in a series of articles.



In Pictures: Rongali Bihu Festival in Assam, India

I’ve just returned from an amazing 2-week trip to India. As I wrote in my previous post, the first stop on my journey was attending the Rongali Bihu Festival in Assam, the north-eastern state in India that is located south of the eastern Himalayas – and where “Assam tea” comes from. Rongali, meaning “colours,” is a special celebration of the Assamese New Year and coming of spring, with the hopes of peace and prosperity. Rongali is one of three Bihu festivals that take place throughout the year, with Rongali being the biggest in Assam.

IMG_1124On April 3-5th, 2015, the community in Guwahati, Assam, held a multifaceted Bihu festival highlighting the arts and culture of the Assamese communities and tribes. This included folk dance, rock and Bollywood music (including Bollywood star, Papon), handicrafts, fashion, traditional sports and oh-so-yummy food.

Assam, the gateway to the northeast, is unexplored – and more than ready for tourism. The festival was designed as a much-needed tourist draw that, under one platform, features the essence of Assam, a state which boasts a number of wildlife sanctuaries, the Brahamaputra River, is home to the one-horned rhino and Royal Bengal Tiger, and is large tea-growing region. “This is a springtime Bihu where there are a lot of festivities, and people are singing and dancing, and making merry,” says Rongali Festival organizer, Shyamkanu Mahanta.” This is a typical way of focusing on our own culture to promote tourism.”

Here are some highlights:


Several Assam tribes prepare to perform Bihu dances in competition (50+ dance forms)




On stage…all dance groups had their own distinct costume and dance form. Truly amazing.


Festival organizer, Shyamkanu Mahanta, and emcee, a famous Assam actress/dancer, Barasha Rani Bishaya.

IMG_1207 A closer glimpse of the lovely star emcee, Barasha Rani Bishaya.


 Dignitaries in attendance.


 Then this happened…I was interviewed by “DD News” TV Delhi. I was also in a number of Indian newspapers – read more about it). The traditional dress I am wearing actually came with me from Toronto!


 This drama, Ram Vijay Ankia Bhaona, has been performed in India for 500 years. All actors are male, including female roles.


Fashion show of saris by a local Assam designer. Loved this!



 Designer Mehzabin Ershad reacts to the roaring cheers of the crowd.



Famous Assam singer, Manas Robin, one of several artists who performed; with a former TV journalist attending.

IMG_1542Manas Robin rocked the house. I really enjoyed his music.


My new travel friend, Tom Peters, former editor of a major Canadian newspaper. I had pitched him many news stories over the years, though never met him until the flight from London to Delhi (lesson: never burn bridges!)


 Some of the vendors… above is an exhibition on how silk is created from worms.


To my surprise, I became somewhat of a celebrity, with locals wanting to take photos with me.


Assam is known for its silk.



 “Gamochas” Assamese traditional hand towel and fabric.


  This girl is donning traditional Assamese fabric.


Smoking meat, fish, veggies the Assamese way.


Drummers from the Meishing Tribe.


 Yeah, I’m a groupie.


Tourist plays a traditional Assamese game. You are blindfolded, spun around a few times to disorient, and then you have to guess where the pot is – and hit it once with a stick. Great for laughs (yes, I did it, too)!


Towering over crowd is my fabulous and trusted guide, Dipankar Borkakati, who took good care of me. Thank you, Dipankar.


Lovely women from Assam Tourism managing the heat and humidity better than me.

Where to StayHotel Dynasty (4 star) is situated on the banks of river Brahamputra, and in the business centre of Guwahati, Assam, with facilities including a spa, health club, bar and restaurant, and more. Rooms from $106 CDN and up (www.DynastyHotel.in).


Read my first article about my India travels here.

Read my Q&A with India travel expert, Vikas Abbott from Vasco Travel.

Stay tuned for the next article in my series on India…


For more information about Rongali Festival and 2016 plans, visit www.RongaliAssam.com.

Traveling to India? Vasco Travel (www.vascotravel.net), based in Delhi, is the industry leader in in-bound travel to India (in Canada, Vasco is represented by Canadian Travel Services www.CanadianTravelServices.ca). For flights, visit Air India (www.airIndia.in), a Star Alliance Member (my route was Toronto-London-Delhi-Guwahati). Resources: India Tourism (www.IncredibleIndia.org) and Assam Tourism (www.AssamTourism.gov.in).


Rongali Festival in Assam, India and my unexpected fame

April 10, 2015

SHANNON’S TRAVEL BAG: travel tips for women Shannon travels to India, the first in a series of articles.   My unexpected fame at the Rongali Festival in Assam, India I have been traveling across North East India for the past 10 days, with my first stop in Guwahati, the largest city in Assam, a major tea […]

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Traveling to India? Here’s expert advice from Vasco Travel

March 30, 2015

SHANNON’S TRAVEL BAG: travel tips for women Shannon Skinner’s Q&A with expert on India travel, Vikas Abbott from Vasco Travel, based in Delhi.     As I pack my bags for India, my excitement is growing by the minute about my upcoming visit to this vast, colourful and diverse country that I have longed to […]

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Photos from Indo-Canadian Women’s Achievements IWD event

March 22, 2015

I received these additional professional photos taken at the event I spoke at last weekend, celebrating Indo-Canadian women’s achievements for International Women’s Day. I wanted to share them. That’s me pictured (below) with the Consul General for India, Mr. Akhilesh Mishra and his lovely wife, Reeti Mishra (seated); and standing in the back are Bhavna […]

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March 15, 2015

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Girlfriend Spring Weekend Getaway at Horseshoe Resort

March 9, 2015

Grab Your Girlfriends for a Spring Weekend Getaway! Gather your besties for a weekend of fun, food, fitness, wine tasting, dancing and bonding. Introducing a girls’ only weekend trip at Ontario’s Horseshoe Resort on April 17-19th. It includes an opening Women, Wine & Chocolate reception, four fitness classes, gourmet breakfast, workshops hosted by Women in Biz Networking, […]

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Upcoming event celebrating Indo-Canadian women

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I am honoured to be a guest speaker on March 18th at this fabulous gala celebrating Indo-Canadian Women in the Greater Toronto Area, in support of the Indo Canadian Arts & Culture Initiative. http://www.mississaugaartscouncil.com/…/indo-canadian-arts…/ Shannon

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This International Women’s Day, be thankful for the UN

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On this International Women’s Day, I am thankful for the United Nations and its important work around the globe. The United Nations, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, touches the lives of every woman – and in every aspect of her life. I recently had the privilege of visiting the United Nations European Headquarters […]

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Got the February blahs? Try these.

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Canadians know how challenging the month of February is. March is not much better. After months of low light, shoveling snow and enduring frigid temperatures (unless you live in Vancouver, in that case, stick it!), we start to get cabin fever from hibernating. Something I have noticed in my own life is that after hanging […]

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