Saturday morning coffee with my sister, Roshanak Jaberi, is a standing tradition. We’re lucky to live near each other in Toronto’s downtown east-end. Upon arriving at our local cafe, we waste no time on small talk; instead, diving into new project ideas that have been germinating in our heads throughout the week.
We discuss her creative process–the challenges and breakthroughs. Art is Roshanak’s platform for exploring difficult themes and inspiring social and political change. She has clear visions for her work and watching her bring that vision to life is always fascinating.
On warmer days, we stroll through Cabbagetown with our coffees and find our way to Riverdale Park, where we sit on the hill and gaze at the cityscape. It’s the same hill we’d attempt to conquer on our bikes, as kids.
Roshanak is an avid traveller. Her work has taken her to Mali, Guinea and Senegal, to Switzerland and France–but it’s nice to see her against the backdrop of our youth. It’s a reminder of how much one can accomplish in a lifetime; how space can inspire, foster or challenge one’s growth; and how, for many, memory might be their last remaining foothold to a space.
For the past three years, Roshanak has been working on one of her most important productions to-date: No Woman’s Land, based on real stories of women in refugee camps. Through her research and interviews with survivors, and by tapping into her own experiences as a young refugee, she’s been exploring these themes of displacement, land and memory quite deeply.
When she is not in rehearsals, Roshanak is collaborating with researchers and other artists. On her down time, she’s consuming every kind of art and socio-political work the city has to offer, from dance shows to documentaries. On rare occasions, you’ll find her at home, swaddled in her robe with a glass of wine–in which case, she’s in for the night and no amount of coaxing will change her mind.
— written by Ramak Jaberi, sister
What hood are you in?
I live on the border of Regent Park and Cabbagetown. When I first moved to Canada, more than 30 years ago with my family, we lived a few blocks away from where I live now. It was interesting to return to this neighbourhood after so many years.
What do you do?
I create, perform, and produce. While my primary medium is dance, I love working with other artistic forms such as theatre, film, visual arts and music. I enjoy having the freedom to follow my curiosity and experiment with ideas outside of dance.
What are you currently working on?
I’m a few weeks away from premiering my newest dance/theatre work, No Woman’s Land. It’s exciting to see all of my ideas come together over the course of the last three years. It’s been an incredible journey collaborating with so many inspiring artists and researchers on this project. I’m very proud of this work.
Where can we find your work?
No Woman’s Land will run for three nights at Harbourfront Centre Theatre, presented by DanceWorks from March 14-16.