Inspired by the South Asian tradition of ‘Mehfil’ or ‘Baithak’, signifying an intimate gathering for artistic and cultural sharing, Mushtari Afroz and Shawn Barry, longtime friends and colleagues in the art, pooled their intentions, energies, and efforts to inaugurate a house concert series in 2022 at Shawn’s home-studio space in Toronto’s Junction neighborhood. Mushtari is a GTA based Indian Classical dancer, choreographer and an artist-researcher in public spaces. Shawn Barry is a Toronto based Indian classical musician and a graphic designer by trade.

Over the following year, the series hosted three events, providing a platform for 11 artists trained in Indian classical music, vocal performance, and dance to share their artistry to a small audience in the intimate setting of the home-studio space. This artistic presentation within a domestic environment underscores the notion that home serves as the initial platform for artists to initiate and sustain their creative practices.

Furthermore, it serves as a poignant reminder of the lost tradition of artistic practice and presentation in intimate spaces in South Asia, before the colonial imposition of proscenium-based presentations dominated the artistic landscape, leading to the loss of nuanced, refined, and intricate solo practices, particularly within Indian classical dance, as they transitioned onto expansive proscenium stages.


The objective of this intimate concert series is to establish a sustainable platform for practitioners of Indian classical music and dance from diverse backgrounds to regularly present their artistry. Additionally, it aims to reintroduce the art of presenting performances in intimate settings, where the audience is just 2 feet away from the performers, affording the audience a more embodied, immersive and sensory experience of the art form.

Rather than hosting a single large event annually, the series plans to organize multiple small events throughout the year, thus providing more opportunities for practitioners to share their experiences and learn from one another. While we enthusiastically welcomed participation from established artists whenever possible, our primary focus was, is and will be on offering more opportunities to Canadian artists who consider themselves emerging talents, poised on the brink of professional recognition.

Due to current funding limitations, we are unable to extend invitations to artists from outside the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). However, we envision broadening our scope in the future to include artists from across Canada who would benefit from sharing their artistic practice at our events.

Past Events:

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Between December 2022 and October 2023, the concert series held three events, with support from collective members, featuring practitioners of North Indian classical music, vocal and dance, as well as South Indian classical dance, sharing their works with audiences of 25-35 people. Each event lasted approximately one hour, with rehearsal space and time arranged beforehand in consultation with the presenting artists. Shawn Barry’s studio provided complimentary light dinner and snacks, and to ensure affordability, the events operated on a ‘Pay What You Can’ basis.

Each event comprised three sections:

Community Introduction: Audience members engaged in various activities to introduce themselves and foster a sense of community in the intimate space.

Performance: Artists introduced themselves and their pieces, presenting works lasting from 6 to 25 minutes.

Q&A: This gave an opportunity for audience members to connect with the artists, learn about their practices, and provide immediate feedback.