Kathak workshop finale — music, dance and the twentieth wife

Kathak workshop finale — music, dance and the twentieth wife

Popular dancer Farah Yasmeen Shaikh held a three-day workshop with kathak enthusiasts which came to an end yesterday
08 Jan, 2016

KARACHI: Lovers of music and dance were thoroughly entertained by the popular classical dancer Farah Yasmeen Shaikh and a set of exceedingly talented musicians as they performed their heart out in the Kathak workshop finale act at T2F on Thursday evening.

Ms Shaikh was initially accompanied on stage by tabla player Yousuf Kerai, vocalist and harmonium player Ustad Mahmood Ali Khan and the talented young sitar nawaz Shehroz Hussain. As the ustad began to sing the bandish ‘Dekho kaisa kaisa naach’ she entered the stage and immediately attracted the audience’s attention with her elegant moves.

The piece was not a lengthy one, therefore as the artists took a breather, Ms Shaikh first told the attendees about the three-day workshop with a fine group of participants. She also said her performance at T2F on Thursday would largely be improvised, because such an effort primarily required the “joy and trust” of the performers.

After that the second piece of the evening was introduced. Ms Shaikh said it was in teen taal (16-beat cycle). The audience, which comprised the young and the not-so-young alike, liked her dance and appreciated her with a warm round of applause. When the routine finished, she lauded Yousuf Kerai for “absorbing” the composition of her guru. Mr Kerai reciprocated the feeling by saying that he learned a lot from her.

Ms Shaikh also gave information on her career. She said she was born and raised in California (hence has an unmissable American accent) and started taking an interest in dance when she was five years old. Initially, she was taken in by western forms. When she was 18, she reached college in San Francisco where she thought she was at the “right place at the right time”.

There she met her guru who was originally from Kolkata. She spoke about her guru with reverence and respect and touched upon his many contributions to the art form, including that of kathak yoga, which she demonstrated a bit as well by playing the harmonium.

The renowned tabla player Ustad Khursheed Hussain’s entry into the scheme of things added another dimension to the event. The ustad played a relatively difficult 14-beat pattern to which Ms Shaikh danced with a great deal of aplomb. The audience particularly enjoyed the number.

Then Ms Shaikh’s focus shifted to the art of storytelling. She said the base of the word kathak was katha, meaning a story. She said she would now perform a piece inspired by Indu Sundaresan’s novel The Twentieth Wife, a historical fiction.

The book tells the tale of Empress Nur Jehan (Mehrunnisa) who as an eight-year-old girl falls in love with Emperor Jehangir and entertains the idea of one day becoming his wife. As she grows up, she does become his twentieth wife. Ms Shaikh’s excerpted interpretation of the tale was received well.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2016


Pune-India Jan 08, 2016 11:46am
nice to see, Pakistanis love Indian cultural activities..
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a Jan 08, 2016 01:35pm
Kathak is an Awadh art form. And its an expression of myriad emotions.
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Andy Murray Jan 08, 2016 01:42pm
@Pune-India Culture is same among both
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Raja Ragu Raman Jan 08, 2016 02:11pm
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shahid kamran Jan 08, 2016 02:32pm
love a lot
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ramesh Jan 08, 2016 09:58pm
surprise to see. kathak in pakistan!!!!!
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Siri Jan 09, 2016 04:28am
@ramesh Why? Khattak hails from the Mughal court, it is part of the Muslim heritage on the sub continent. If anything it is more likely to be part of Pakistani culture than Indian. Bharat nattiam is an hindu based dance form and is not part of our culture.
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Alexander Jan 09, 2016 07:42am
@ramesh bhai it has always been there in Pakistan. It is a common heritage of both countries developed much by the Mughals.
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Nighat Jan 09, 2016 10:50am
Few years ago I saw a marvelous performance of Khatak Dance set off against Spanish Flamenco which is associated with the Romas, the gypsies of Eastern Europe of Indian decent. Alternately each side challenged the other with a short dance sequence and music, then the Khatak or Flamenco performer and musicians performed their response to this. The Festival takes place each Summer in Museum Rietberg Park in Zürich, really worthwhile attending.
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