Performing for a cause: Classical dances, music make for a charming evening

Indu Mitha’s students perform the Bharat Natyam.

Maryam Usman September 29, 2013
Bharat Natyam a traditional, and now popular dance form, originated in South India. PHOTO: EXPRESS


Under the cloudy night sky, a sizeable audience enjoyed classical music and dance performances at Kuch Khaas on Friday. The sounds of ghungroos, the fragnance of fresh gajras and the diminutive flames of earthen lamps lining the stage set the ambience for the evening.

“Raqs-e-Mausiqi” was organised by the Institute of Preservation of Art and Culture in collaboration with Kuch Khaas and All Pakistan Katchi Abadis Alliance and was aimed at raising funds for  slum dwellers facing eviction.

At the heart of the show were classical dance performances of Bharat Natyam by students of Indu Mitha who have been training in this form of Indian classical dance for the past decade. The octogenarian Mitha has dedicated over seventy years of her life to the classical dance traditions of the Indian Subcontinent and has been teaching the art for over five decades.

As a prelude to the dance performances, Mitha shared the dance form’s history, which originated in south India and spread all over the world. It has also gained popularity in Bollywood.

A young dancer, Zahra Qureshi performed “Sari sunheri ordh kar chup chup kar dekhti thi woh” with full command over expression and gestures. Ayesha Iqbal, the youngest dancer at Mitha’s dance school, Muzmoon-e-Ishq, performed Amir Khusro’s famous “Tillana” (also known as “Tarana”) to much applause. Next up was Amna Mawaz who mesmerised the audience with her nuanced rendition of the “Dukhi” dance in a solo performance and later in the “Jathiswaram Duet” with Feryal Aslam.

Attired in a royal blue and gold sari, Aslam who has recently completed a PhD in dance from the University of California and Los Angeles, talked to The Express Tribune about her thesis and research in the performing arts. “People have a lot of misconceptions about classical dance and especially Bharat Natyam. As a practising Muslim and a classical dancer, I have found it enlightening to explore the stigma that people attach to the dance form,” she said.

The dance performances were punctuated by classical and semi-classical folk and instrumental performers. Taimoor Khan offered an instrumental performance on sarangi along with Sarfraz on the tabla.

Ammar Rashid, a young vocalist, enchanted the audience with a mix of Sufi poetry, singing and playing the guitar simultaneously. He rendered folk songs such as “Tere ishq nachaya,” followed by some verses from Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem, “Intesaab”, as well as “Umeed-e-Sehar,” a popular track of Laal band.

Abbas Ali Khan, a popular vocalist and disciple of Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, offered a medley of Bhervi and Aiman ragas encompassing Abida Parveen’s “Yaar ko humne ja baja dekha” and RD Burman’s “Iss morh se jatay hain.” His effortless vocals complemented the rhythms of tabla and organ.

“It was a very refreshing evening and I like how they are doing this to support a noble cause,” commented Raniya, an audience member. Moreover, she commended Mitha for her contribution to the arts from this part of the world.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2013.


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