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March 17, 2020

Celebrating the life of a legend

Islamabad

March 17, 2020

Islamabad:Despite all the warnings not to attend gatherings in closed places, admirers of Pakistan’s iconic classical dance guru, the one and only, Indu Mitha, turned up in large numbers to the tribute performance to celebrate her 90th birthday at Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA). Produced by her talented daughter Tehreema Mitha - a choreographer; dancer; composer and visual artist - the event featured, besides Tehreema herself - the guru’s foremost trainee, now a master trainer herself - Amna Mawaz and Iftikhar Masih, while musical interludes were provided by Wajih Nizami on the sitar and Ustad Nemat Ali Khan on the ‘tabla.’

Welcoming the audience, Director General, PNCA Fauzia Saeed - who needs no introduction as she is well known for the work she has done in the field of culture - said they had decided not to cancel the event because it was such an important occasion but all future programs will be put on hold from Monday. After this, she introduced the lady in whose honor the event was being held; thanked everyone for coming and the programme began.

Tehreema began with traditional dances, which were, as usual a pleasure to watch and are a real treat for dance aficionados but my personal favorite was the one on more modern, interpretive dance in which a flying insect was bothering her while she was reading. Her expressions and the way she enacted the incident thorough dance was superb. A couple of more modern, energetic dances were followed by a Sufi number, which was a fitting end to the whole performance.

Islamabad based Amna Nawaz appeared twice, once with Iftikhar Masih and once with Tehreema and both times she was, as usual, a joy to watch, while he is getting better as time passes. The musical interludes were also well appreciated by the audience especially the ‘jugal bandi.’ (a duet of two solo musicians. The word means, literally, ‘entwined twins.’ The duet can be either vocal or instrumental.) The young sitar player did justice to his teachers and will go on to be one of the great musicians of Pakistan.

Indu Mitha has been committed to teaching many young girls and boys to identify with dance as an artistic expression and is a very popular person in the cultural world of not only Islamabad, but around the country. She is loved by her friends; respected by the community and is still active in many spheres though she gave up teaching a couple of years ago. We wish this icon of Pakistan a long and healthy life and hope we can benefit from the lessons of living a meaningful life she has taught us. Many admirers jumped up on the stage to present her with bouquets and she thanked everyone for being there for the celebration.

Tehreema Mitha, who was trained by her mother, migrated to the US after the stifling atmosphere against dance and music took hold in the country some years ago, comes to Pakistan every now and again to enthrall audiences with her own particular style of dance. Besides being a dancer of caliber she composes all her own music and designs the costumes; she is also a well-known painter; and it is said of her that ‘in her work she creates a new universe in which the past and present do not collide, so much as collaborate.’