Islamabad-Capital under heavy clouds, rain showers, gas load shedding and Panama Leaks hearing, invite from Stuart De Dan Nicolas, General Manager Marriott hotel Islamabad to attend a Classical Night performance came as a breath of fresh air. The marquee hall which has gone through a major refurbishing created a perfect mood for the night.

The host welcomed the guests and emphasized on the work of rehabilitation that Hashoo Foundation has undertaken since its formation by its founder Sadar-ud-din Hashwani. She invited the guest in audience to contribute in shape of their time, money or ideas for continuation of the noble cause.

Once the speeches and vote of thanks for the sponsors was over, Taimur Rahman was invited on the stage for rendition of poetry, satirical excerpts and recitals. He choose Gulzar Ahmad, Noon Meem Rashid, Putrus Bokhari and Faiz Ahmad Faiz, thus  completely ignoring the fact that there were quite a few foreigners in attendance including the General Manager Marriot Islamabad to whom it was music to ears.

An inclusion of TS Elliot or William Shakespeare or William Wordsworth in his literary menu would have definitely served food for thought amongst foreign audience.

Classical dance is one of the most comprehensive and oldest forms of art in the world and in Pakistan names like Maharajh, Naheed Saddiqui, Sheema Kirmani, Indu Mitha and Nighat Chaudhry are considered torch bearers of this ancient Indian art. 

The maestros and their disciples have opened academies in different cities where students from different walks of life get training. Nighat Chaudhry who has studied choreography at Duke University and Kathak at Kathak Kendra, New Delhi is also an instructor in Lahore and runs an Institute of Performing Arts. As the lights went dim, Chaudhry embarked on the stage, in colourful attire holding rose petals in her hands.

Her first piece of performance was on the famous Abida Parveen number, Maulla. It was a tribute in respect of Sufism and great Sufis of the world. Her interpretative performance and rhythmic movements primarily through gestures and facial expressions truly brought to light, the poetic and emotional meaning of the song while combining rhythmic gaits and postures.

The hands and feet too moved in a specific pose, poetic justice, well delivered. First piece surely kicked off the well, suitably setting the invocative tone for an auspicious beginning. The rhythm and melody became livelier as the show progressed.

There is no doubt that the essence of classical dance involves elaborate system of postures including hands gestures, foot movements, neck and eyes and hands. This work of art is performed with acrobatic energy and highly stylized pantomime. The next piece was called Taal. In this spell bounding performance, complexity of the footwork on the stamping rhythms enhanced the dance as bells around the ankle supplied accompaniment in addition to the music. The torso, face, arms and hands actively moved with the music. The third piece was thumree choreographed in the Indian blockbuster by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, called “Bajiro Mastani”.

It was indeed an intricate dance which included passages of narratives pantomime. She mesmerized the audience as her body remained relatively still and the arms framed the face to balance the body. Second piece performance delivered a festive look dedicated to the celebrations

It was her heads subtle change of direction and characteristic and side-to-side movement which emphasized her   fiscal expression. 

The last piece was titled ‘Teen Taal’ which according to Chaurdhry has been taught by her maestro Maharajah. The movement of the torso was graceful and her fluid shifting side to side displayed a vast repertoire of gestures through which she expressed complex emotions. Her delicate grace swayed with the guests. It was fluid and feminine. No wonder, Indian classical dance is primarily a solo based art.