Uzma Ali
Uzma Ali

Aversatile dancer and theatre activist, Uzma Ali, started acting as a child star in a play by the theatre group, Punjab Lok Rahs, during mid-90s and it turned out to be a lifetime romance for her.

Her father would compose poetry and sing and she was exposed to various forms of literature and music during her junior school days.

“The first drama I performed in was about child marriage. My elder brother was a part of the theatre group. They didn’t have a young actor to perform the role so I was selected. After this, I became the part of the group but it did not give me a role to play for a long time. I quit it to focus on studies and joined back in 2003.”

Uzma loved dance but never thought of learning and practising it as an art form. During the rehearsals of a play Batti Dharran’, the director Zubair Baloch, impressed by her moves on the stage, suggested her to go for formal dance training. Learning the basics of dance from Beena Jawad and Adnan Jehangir, who would come for choreography for the plays, she later joined Nahid Siddiqui’s dance classes at Chitarkar to learn classical dance.

“These were only weekly classes and I would start learning from her performance videos.”

She joined the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) for further training.

“I was familiar with the basics. After auditions, they not only admitted me but also assigned me the job to teach the young dancers and do the choreography for solo and group performances in Pakistan and abroad,” she says and added that she was lucky to have the talented choreographer, Roshanara Bukhari, as a teacher.

Uzma worked with the PNCA for eight years, learnt folk, Kathak and Western dances and represented Pakistan in numerous solo and group performances abroad. She is grateful to Lakht Pasha for helping her to develop a conceptual understanding of theatre and film. When Punjab Lok Rahs moved to Sahiwal, Uzma joined the street theatre group of Huma Safdar where she is working till date.

“Huma Safdar is a multifaceted artiste and director with a sound understanding of every aspect of drama. Performing in streets of the remote towns of Punjab and Sindh is a unique experience. I always enjoyed the reaction of the audiences whose response changes from the start to the end of the drama. It’s a real training for actors and the viewers,” she narrates.

Uzma is working for the Lahore Grammar School as a choreographer and teacher and has a vision to develop a dance group of her own. For the last few years, she has been learning the classical music from Muhammad Hanif. She has worked with Nighat Chaodhry and Wahab Shah in various dance projects and got inspired by freestyle dance of the latter.

A keen reader of poetry, Uzma loves to improvise traditional dance forms to create spontaneous performances, rendering classical and contemporary Punjabi poetry. It shows her command on various genres of dance she is trained in.

“Through training and practice, I am trying to develop the vocabulary of dance derived from the vocabulary of poetry. We interpret poetry in different ways and it should be presented in the dance innovatively,” she concluded.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2017

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