GASTON, Dr. Anne-Marie (née Groves), who performed under the stage name of 'Anjali', died July 6, 1941 April 5, 2018. She was dancer, choreographer, writer, photographer, lecturer, teacher and traveller: Beloved wife and sister. Anne-Marie was born, raised, educated (at Lisgar Collegiate, where she was head girl) and died in Ottawa. She did her first degree at Queen's University and subsequently earned two post-graduate degrees (M.Litt., D.Phil) at Oxford University, UK.

During her life, Anne-Marie spent many years in India and UK, as well as traveling throughout the world observing and studying local cultures and languages. She was an internationally recognised performer, choreographer and teacher of East Indian classical dances. She held a Ph.D. in South Asian Artistic Traditions from Oxford University. Her studies bring an authenticity to her work, which presented, with beauty, humour and depth, some of the most compelling issues of our time. Her mixed-media events transcended cultural barriers, making them "an evening of pure pleasure".

She was the first native-born Canadian to perform Classical East Indian Dance professionally and over the years she performed for tens of thousands throughout Canada, US, Europe and India, including Prime Ministers Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Indira Gandhi. Fearless and indomitably cheerful, she continued her research on Indian classical dances to within two weeks of her death. She passed away peacefully, at home in New Edinburgh, surrounded by family and friends. In memoriam donations to Myeloma Canada would be highly appreciated.

"Her footwork was flawless and her facial expression eloquent

Chennai, The Mail

"Anjali is one of the few western dancers who can be mistaken for an Indian, not only for her stage presence but for the technical quality of her dance"

Delhi, Financial Express

"Brought the house down with a Tillana of Exquisite Grace and Beauty"

Delhi, Hindustan Times

"Packed houses.. Recreates myths with poise and skill... well worth seeing"

The Scotsman , Edinburgh Festival Fringe


To view videos of Anjali and Company in performance, follow these links:


DANCE: TRADITIONAL Bharata Natyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Chhau and CONTEMPORARY CHOREOGRAPHY based on classical forms.

Anjali'srecitals are a unique combination of traditional and innovative dance woven around a theme and highlighted by exquisite slide backdrops and poetic narration.

Visions of the Feminine... highlights the infinite moods of the feminine, and the varied manifestations of the Goddess.

Krishna Lila ... traces the mischievous childhood of Krishna, his romantic youth as described in the Gita Govinda and finally his discourse on the field of battle in the Bhagavad Gita.

Manifestations of Siva ... the dancing God, Nataraja, may be a lover, a hunter, or a beggar. His cosmic dance both creates the universe and also destroys it.

The Story of Rama and Other Avatars of Visnu ...the ten incarnations of Vishnu and an abridged version of the great epic, the Ramayana.

In Praise of Wilderness ...the beauty, fragility and savage power of nature, once feared and placated, are now imperilled.

Innovative New Work ...The Sun Goddess (a Japanese story), Envy (based on the Noh play, Lady Aoi), Ishtar and Gilgamesh, The Rival's Shawl, Moods in Mask and Mime, Prana Vriksha (Tree Soul), The Mirror of Illusion.

Sacred Dance ... prayers and sacred stories from around the world.

... a many splendoured happening, cerebrally tantalizing, visually sensuous and evocatively emotional... supple dancer with stupendous imagination ...universal charm and aesthetic appeal."Sunday Herald, Delhi

"Graceful, polished, strong, supple, delightful...Anyone who likes dance ought to go" CBC, Ottawa


“IT WAS A MULTI-SENSUAL DELIGHT delight that passed on the message in several dance forms. It was a unique synthesis of art and science,” Deccan Herald, Bangaluru

“THIS IS ART WITHOUT BORDERS. Anjali and Tony Gaston are part of an international group of artists whose artistic expression belongs to world art... resonates with diverse audiences be they from India Canada or elsewhere”. Arshiya Sethi, Kri Foundation, New Delhi, after Anjali’s recital at the Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India

UNUSUAL and PROFOUND... From the traditional Mallari to the Japanese story [of the Sun Goddess], from the Rg Veda [Lady Forest] to Hiawatha, Anjali traversed boundaries of language with great ease. The choreography was breathtaking in its imagination." The Statesman, Delhi.

I really enjoyed this piece [Envy] very much.. An evening with Anjali is a special experience.. do try to see her, you will not only enjoy yourself but you will learn an enormous amount about these traditions." The Statesman, Delhi.


"Drawing from a galaxy of experiences, both in terms of her learning and exposure to various cultures..., Anjali performed with involvement and impeccable timing. She effortlessly combined movements from the different styles of dancing.." The Hindu, Delhi


"...Anjali can easily be mistaken for an Indian, not only for her STAGE PRESENCE but for the TECHNICAL QUALITY of her dance... her footwork was FLAWLESS and her facial expression ELOQUENT"Indian Express, Madras

"...her clear line, verve and sense of talam (time measures), were quite OUTSTANDING." Dancing Times, London

<"...Anjali held the audiences SPELLBOUND. This form of dancing requires immense stamina as well as suppleness and delicacy. Anjali has managed to combine all three." Vancouver Sun, Vancouver

" was mime, theatre, poetry and philosophy... all created by one dancer. It is easy to see why she is considered OUTSTANDING." The Tribune, Winnipeg

myths, philosophy, and poetry... SENSITIVE COMMENTARY, reflecting study in depth as well as reverence" The Times of India, Delhi


"In my own choreography I have chosen to carefully select universal elements from the very refined and highly stylized dance dramas from South Asia in which I have been trained. These timeless traditional forms have enormous potential to be used in a contemporary context and to communicate with audiences from a wide variety of backgrounds. The classical dances of South Asia have matured over centuries and can be used to express universal artistic truths. This gift, given to me by my teachers is an excellent vehicle for communicating across cultures.

"In addition to my training in Indian classical dance, my study of South Asian art history helps me to integrate different art forms. Dance, theatre, sculpture painting, poetry and literature share the same underlying aesthetic in my contemporary work as they do in my traditional recitals. An important part of my creative process has been the use of original music composed by western musicians but incorporating elements from several South Asian percussion traditions."


"Indian dance is theatre. In its country of origin, audiences generally understand the language of the songs to which the dances are performed. The poetry (sahitya) and the dance are intimately linked. To allow the development of a similar appreciation in Canadian audiences, my recitals frequently incorporate text in English/French so that the theatrical content and context of the dance becomes meaningful.

"I draw inspiration from universal traditional sources and the earth itself, and innovate with themes that reflect my concern with our physical and spiritual environment.

"I do not like to put my life in compartments; Dance, Music, Art, Philosophy, History and Environment, are all interwoven. Nor do I think of South Asian art as regional art. It is a classical art; the fruit of a mature culture. The dance is not just a language of the body, but a medium for projecting the spirituality within each of us. The universality inherent in many different cultural expressions has the potential to enrich not only our cultural life, but the whole way we look at the earth. It is our joint stewardship of the environment that binds us all, and collectively we must cherish its richness or be destroyed. To appreciate the wonder of this planet is to give it enduring love. When we understand how wonderful our common heritage is, we shall be much kinder to it than we are now. This will ensure that we can continue to draw inspiration from its majesty."


"Anjali.. etched powerful images to match the poetry that was being narrated. Exquisite slides filled the cyclorama to create spectacular backdrops for the drama that unfolded" The Pioneer, Delhi

Images 35 mm professional slides are used as backdrops and are an integral part of the recital. For the traditional repertoire the use of sculptures in stone and bronze, and miniature paintings highlight the close/ intimate relationship between dance and the visual arts. No single art can be viewed separate from the others: dance, music, theatre, painting, sculpture and literature are linked by rules which define excellence and they share the same aesthetic principles. My work explores this connection and highlights that all of the arts of India share the same basic aesthetic. According to a legend recorded in the 8th century text, the Vishnumdharmottara Purana: " A King wished to prepare a divine image. He summoned a master sculptor and asked for his instruction. The artist replied; "To learn to sculpt, you must first be familiar with painting, because that teaches line. But to understand the lines of the body, one must first be familiar with dance. To dance, a knowledge of music is essential. Therefore, before you take up the chisel, you have much to learn." This legend illustrates the unity of the Indian classical arts. Their common foundation lies in the idea of rasa; mood or emotion. Expressing this is the key to the dance.



The Creation of Odissi and the influence of Bharatanatyam

BanteaySrei - Treasury of Hindu Iconography

Banis (Styles of Bharatanatyam)




1982 SIVA IN DANCE, MYTH AND ICONOGRAPHY , Delhi: Oxford University Press (in its third edition).


In press ‘Affirmation of Ethnicity and Cultural Insights Through the Eyes of an East Indian Dancer’, in Ambivalent Hosts: An Exploration of Ethnic Minority Tourism in China ed. Hope MacClean, Marie-Françoise Guédon, University of Laval Press.

2014 ‘Dance as a way of being religious’ in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts ed. Frank Burch Brown, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

2011 ‘Dance and Hinduism: a personal exploration’ in Studying Hinduism in Practice, edited by Hillary Rodrigues. Part of a larger series, Studying Religion in Practice, Routledge.

2009 ‘Religion and Ritual in Bharatanatyam’ in Bharatanatyam, a reader edited by Davesh Soneji Oxford University Press.

1999 'Dialogue in Dance; Classical East Indian Dance as a Component of Hybrid Choreography' in Indian Dance, ed. David Waterhouse, Toronto: Centre For South Asian Studies, University of Toronto, Bombay: Popular Prakashan.

1998 'Men in Bharata Natyam', in Interfacing Nations on the 50th Anniversary of India's Independence , ed. R Chowdhari-Trembley et al. Delhi: BR publ.

1997'Devadasis and the Origins of Bharata Natyam', in Perspectives in South Asia at the Threshold of the 21st Century ed. Reeta Chowdhari-Trembley, Montreal: CASA.

1996 'Interpreting The Erotic in Bharata Natyam', in Tanzkunst, Ritual and Buhne: Begegnungen zwischen Kulturen, ed. Marianne Nurnberger, Frankfurt: IKO-Verlag fur Interkulturelle Kommunikation.

<1994 'Secularization and De-secularization of Indian Classical Dance' in South Asian Horizons: Enriched by South Asia, Celebrating 25 years of South Asian Studies in Canada , ed. E. Tepper and J. Wood, Ottawa: Carleton University Press.

1991 'Continuity of Tradition in the Music of Nathdvara', in The Idea of Rajasthan, Volume 1, Explorations in Regional Identity, ed. Karine Schomer et al. Riverdale MA: Riverdale Publishers; Delhi: Manohar.

1991 'Dance and the Hindu Woman; Religion and Ritual in Bharata Natyam' in Roles and Rituals for Hindu Women, ed. Julia Leslie, London: Pinter.

1983 'The Effect of Changing Patronage on Indian Performing Arts', in Proceedings from the 10th International Congress of Sociology, Mexico City 1982, Sophia, Bulgaria: Institute of Culture.


In press 'THE CREATION OF ODISSI and the influence of BHARATA NATYAM' Kalakshetra Journal, Chennai.

1999 'The Re-Construction of Bharata Natyam, in Proceedings of Dance History Scholars, Albuquerque New Mexico: University of New Mexico.

1996 'Gender in Bharata Natyam', Journal of the Madras Music Academy.

1992 'Repertoire in Bharata Natyam' Journal of The Madras Music Academy.

1991 'Bharata Natyam, A Classical East Indian Dance Style in Transition' South Asian Studies Journal -7, Cambridge.

1991 'Dance Recitals at the Madras Music Academy 1933-1988', Journal of The Madras Music Academy.

1989 'The Family History of Guru Purushottam Das, Hereditary Pakhavaji of the Shri Nathji Temple, Nathdvara, Rajasthan', Dhrupad Annual, Banaras Hindu University, Banaras.

1984 'Improvisation in Indian Classical Dance' Bansuri, Journal of Indian Music and Dance, Raga-Mala Performing Arts of Canada, Calgary.

1972 'Dances of Men and Gods', Indo-Asia, Journal of Indian Culture.

1971 'Encounter with Indian Dance', >Sangeet Natak Akademi Journal, No.19.


1988 East Indian Classical Dance In Canada: The Potential For Touring and Performing, Report prepared for the Touring Office of the Canada Council.

Anjali "Envy"


The temples of ancient India grew up in centres of commerce, and were often endowed by kings. Some were many acres in extent, with vast pillared halls, bathing pools, elephant stables, shops and numerous shrines to different gods. The temples remain largely unchanged, but dancing, which once formed a vital part of the religious rites, is no longer to be seen. Instead, the prayers and religious stories, once presented daily in dance before the temple gods, are now performed as art in towns and cities throughout India.

Hand gestures and steps used in the dance are strictly codified and executed in accordance with the principals laid down in ancient texts. Different combinations of gestures and movements provide a huge vocabulary through which stories can be depicted in detail surpassing the spoken word: each line of a song may be expressed many times without repetition. The theatrical aspect of Indian dance (nritya) is combined with with purely aesthetic movement (nritta). While the dramatic content of Indian dance is intended to tell a story, pure movement (nritta) does not.

Formerly, a single tradition was found throughout subcontinent, but with the passing of time regional styles emerged. All of them employ the basic elements of rhythmic beating of the feet, detailed hand and facial gestures and body postures in slightly different ways. All the arts in India are inter-related and share the same aesthetic principles: dance, theatre, sculpture and painting, and music. The basis of the art is Rasa, Feeling or Mood.

As art in traditional India is religious, it is natural that the dance should have originated with the gods and become part of religious ceremonies, used either in worship to enact the hymns, or in pure movement, as an expression of joy. Although Indian dancing is now presented on the stage, the form of the dance remains unchanged.The music is classical in style, and the dancer performs alone (except in the dance drama traditions), often portraying several different characters in the course of a single dance. The stories all have a religious background but they range in mood from comic to tragic, spanning the whole gamut of human emotions.In this ancient art dance and theatre combine to form a spectacle which is at once unique and universal.

Bharata Natyam: the most famous South Indian dance style and originally the preserve of the devadasis (temple dancers): the first to be performed by non-hereditary dancers.

Odissi: Odissi survived to the present day in the most holy shrine, the temple of Jagannatha at Puri where it was kept alive by maharis or temple dancers. The dance was almost unknown outside Orissa until forty years ago.

Kathakali: Kathakali is a night long dance drama from Kerala performed, until recently, almost exclusively by men. It still flourishes in its original setting as an important part of temple festivities. It is notable for its detailed facial expressions and its martial movements. Many of the stories come from the great Hindu epic the Mahabharata. More masculine and vigorous than the other styles, it is now performed by both sexes.

Kuchipudi: This was originally an all-male dance drama indigenous to the state of Andhra Pradesh. For the past 30 years, it has been taught to women and presented as a solo dance.

Chhau: these dances developed from the tribal dances of northern Orissa (Mayurbhanj style) and southern Bihar (Seraikela). They possess many unique movements, but make less use of facial expression than the classical styles. The Seraikela style is performed in mask.