‘Poor state of performing arts linked to lack of formal institutes’

Kathak classes underway at Institute of Performing Arts; theatre to begin after Ramazan

Amel Ghani July 04, 2015
Kathak classes underway at Institute of Performing Arts; theatre to begin after Ramazan. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS

LAHORE: “Lack of formal education in performing arts is responsible for their poor condition in the country. We hope to improve this with the formation of the Institute of Performing Arts (IPA),” veteran dancer Nighat Choudhry says.

Talking to The Express Tribune, she says the mode of teaching in the performing arts like dance has so far been informal in the country. She says the presence of formal institutions of learning in performing arts will help students interact with one another and promote a sense of community. “The IPA will provide people interested in pursuing careers in the performing arts with a place to get together and exchange ideas,” she says. She adds that without formal education institutes, there can be possibility of growth of performing arts in the country.

Other members of the IPA founding team are Imran Nafees Siddique, Wahab Shah and Alina Ali.

Imran Nafees Siddique, a theatre expert, says the co-founders had been thinking on their own for a while to set up an institute to teach courses in their areas of expertise. “I realised the importance of such an institute during my years of experience of running my own theatre company (Dugdugee). There is a limit to teaching an art form like theatre to newcomers on the job. An institute dedicated to producing experts can be helpful in promotion of performing arts,” he says.

Classes for a kathak dance course had started at the institute on June 1. After Ramazan, the IPA will offer courses in salsa, Bollywood and hiphop dance forms and theatre.

The courses offered at the institute will be divided into four levels: foundation, intermediate, advanced and professional levels. All courses will follow definite curricula and end-of-the-term exams. Students who graduate to the professional level will be given the opportunity to perform in public events with their teachers and other established artistes.

Students enrolled in the Kathak course say that a well-defined curricula and regular examinations will motivate them to perform hard.

Aimon Fatima says earlier she had been learning the dance form at home. She says she has been working harder at learning the dance since enrollment at the IPA. “I know I’m not going to proceed to the next level if I fail the exam at the end of three months,” she says.

Fatima says that she also wants to pursue a research degree in the history of kathak. She says the course has been helpful in improving her understanding of theoretical concepts.

The founding team is planning to also start courses in music, puppetry and circus performances. Siddique says that besides modern practices, courses in puppetry will focus on local traditions of the art form.

Through the Nighat Chaodhry Foundation, the IPA has been affiliated with the London-based Institute of Performing Arts and Heritage. They say they plan to eventually turn the institute into a university for performing arts.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2015.

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