Culture in Chaos: Dance at Youth Performing Arts Festival

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As quickly as they came on, the lights disappeared and with them the empty stage. The rowdy, impatient crowd was at once silenced- the lone performer’s silhouette filled center-stage-and with a flourish of the recorded tabla beat-spotlight was on! 

Tonight we had the pleasure of attending a kathak-semi-classical dance performance put on by the esteemed artiste Nahid Siddiqui and her dance troupe. The first act was steeped in classical tradition- from the swan-like movements of the male performer to the ghungroos (bell-anklets) adorning both of the poised feet. Such understated grace– the delicate balance between stillness and motion as if each beat of the tabla drum resonated through– first the performer’s heart, then outwards towards the limbs–gaining strength and range  until it dissipates upon hitting air.  “Tat-Tat-Thai” (bol) Each beat – half-beat  was matched and then, at times left to linger on the autumn air, as if waiting for it to boomerang back inwards- towards the source- the return. Perfectly executed turns brought to life the aural story-telling– transporting us from the crowded auditorium to a palatial  abode where a demi-god pondered his love.

With applause echoing, four new dancers assembled, looking resplendent in the deep purple-pink silk ensembles, lined in a row by height, hands unfolding as if petals- slowly-in sync with the chimes.  As the chimes gained momentum, so did the performer, gliding across the stage– as if oblivious of the bright lights– the large swarm of moths– the occasional jeer from the ADD members of audience- a salute to their professionalism!  A delicate tug-of-war occurs; guided by  vocalized ‘bol’ or rhythmic phrase and crisp tabla beats; then is laid to rest– each performer getting equal time in the center to showcase their passion and skill in the moving arts.

With a two-part performance – rich in variety, color, and rhythm–the NSG earned everyone’s attention and praise tonight.  Bravo to the team behind Lahore’s Youth Performing Arts Festival for highlighting such dedicated members of our community!