Ishita Singla: The idea to start Madhuban Performing Arts was to have an inclusive and nurturing platform

The birth of Madhuban Performing Arts emerged from a need to challenge the toxic landscape that marginalized talents faced. As the Founder and Artistic Director, Ishita Singla’s mission was clear: to provide a nurturing haven for artists to unleash their creativity without compromise. In this enlightening interview, Ishita shares her insights into the genesis of Madhuban, the challenges she overcame as an immigrant, and the transformative impact the organization is making on Calgary’s cultural scene.


What prompted you to start Madhuban Performing Arts?
Witnessing a toxic environment for South Asian artists in Calgary was the catalyst. Misogyny, sexism, and bullying prevailed, making it imperative for me to create a platform where artists could thrive without compromising their integrity. Madhuban was born out of the need for an inclusive and nurturing space.

Being an immigrant, did you face challenges initially? How did you overcome them?
Absolutely. My journey as an immigrant began with rounds of bullying due to differences. Dance became my refuge, providing a voice when words failed. Stepping on stage ignited a courage within me that countered my initial shyness.

Could you shed light on the current programs offered by Madhuban?
Madhuban is committed to delivering top-notch music and dance performances. We offer auditions for the music band and dance team, providing professional training at no cost. Classes for beginners in both disciplines are available. I personally lead intermediate-level workshops for dance enthusiasts with varied schedules. Our events include Desi open mic nights and music-related gatherings. The highlight is our annual production, a spectacular fusion of live music, dance, and drama.

How can one participate in Madhuban’s initiatives?
Keep an eye on our social media channels for updates on open mic nights, workshops, and performances. Everyone is welcome to join our vibrant community.

How often does Madhuban organize events in the city? Is it challenging to do so?
We’ve organized an event each month this year. It’s a challenging feat, but our dedicated team makes it possible.

How has the response been to embracing South Asian culture and heritage?
The response has been gradual but heartening, especially post-COVID. We’ve witnessed a shift from skeptics to admirers. However, there’s still work to be done as we advocate for equity, respect, and paid opportunities.

Could you share any notable success stories or achievements of Madhuban Performing Arts?
We collaborated with a major production house for “The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir” starring Dhanush in 2019. Additionally, the Madhuban Band is set to feature in an upcoming Netflix film directed by an accomplished filmmaker.

How does Madhuban Performing Arts contribute to the local community and promote cultural diversity?
As a volunteer-driven non-profit, Madhuban fosters creativity and innovation through artistic collaborations. Our team of 40 artists dedicates an average of 15 hours per week to community projects. We support around 80 initiatives, including partnerships with organizations like Calgary Pride and Immigrant Services Calgary.

Could you share insights into the selection process for instructors and artists in your programs and events?
We conduct formal auditions and also discover talent organically within the community. This approach ensures a diverse and talented roster.

Anjali Shetty
Written by

Anjali Shetty

A seasoned journalist with 14 years of experience in the field, I have a diverse portfolio of work, covering a wide range of topics from news and entertainment to food and lifestyle. Navigating the world of parenting now, I am inspired to share my insights and experiences on this beautiful and challenging adventure. Writing about Marathi cinema is a passion of mine, as I find immense joy in unraveling the cultural that this industry offers.