KARACHI: After just a day’s rehearsal with the Tarz group, Kathak dancer Farah Yasmeen Shaikh lit up the auditorium at the Pakistan American Cultural Centre (PACC) with a beautiful dance performance for Milap, an evening of Kathak on Sunday night.

As the music started to play, Ms Shaikh walked out on stage in a vibrant orange outfit — her feet and arms moved along with the music in perfect synchronisation. With her arms stretched out before her, she was ready to tell the audience a story with her performance.

The audience at PACC was enthralled with the way Ms Shaikh, an internationally touring soloist who has performed sold-out shows to her original choreographic work, moved to the beat of the tabla, violin, bass guitar and sitar.

Several members of the audience took out their cell phones and held them up to record Ms Shaikh’s dainty feet and movements.

The performance highlighted various aspects of Kathak — theyari, layakari, khubsurat and nazakat — through a dynamic power and technique juxtaposed with beauty and grace.

The Tarz group’s Yousuf Kerai said that they were honoured to perform with a talented dancer like Ms Shaikh.

The group was led by founder and tabla player Mr Kerai, Ustad Mehmood Ali Khan on vocals, Islamuddin Meer on violin, Ashiq Ali on dholal, Asif Imran on keyboard, Kishwar Allah Ditta on bass guitar and Shehroze Hussain on sitar. According to Mr Kerai, Ms Shaikh got in touch with the group via email after listening to their album, the Essence of South Asia. The album, which is now on sale at The Second Floor (T2F), is how the two came together for the performance at PACC.

The Tarz Group and Ms Shaikh dedicated a performance, Kinaray, to Sabeen Mahmud, the director of PeaceNiche who passed away in April last year. The piece, according to Mr Kerai, was about the ray of light. “We dedicate this piece to Sabeen as she was our ray of light,” he said, adding that T2F was the birthplace of the group.

With the violin, sitar and guitar playing in the background, Ms Shaikh looked like she had floated in light a ray of sunlight. Her performance left the audience mesmerised.

The next piece was what Ms Shaikh claimed a personal favourtie — Payal Pe. It was followed by a piece from the group’s album titled Call of the Sea.

According to Ms Shaikh, she used the piece to create a visual of nature by recreating the story of Shakuntala and the king who saved her.

Her expressions held the audience captive as she played a multiple characters — from Shakuntala who is stung by the bee, to the king who goes on a hunt, ends up saving the damsel in distress and then, their happily ever after.

The last performance of the night Aaj Rung Hai, which was also the artist’s last night in the city, was dedicated to Holi.

Ms Shaikh has trained for two decades with Kathak icon, the late Pandit Chitresh Das and was a lead dancer of the Chitresh Das Dance Company.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2016

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