Young Kathak dance maestro Adnan Jahangir is lucky to be trained by dedicated teachers and legendary performers in Pakistan and India.
An accident left him bed ridden in 1996; but it proved to be a watershed moment in his life.
“I’d never planned opting any kind of visual or performing art as a career,” Adnan recalls. “My brother managed a tutor who would come daily to help me in my academic studies. He was a friendly person and soon he realized my aptitude (towards art) and suggested me training in visual arts. After diploma from Punjab University and appearing again and again in admission tests, I finally got admission to the National College of Arts (NCA) to major in the discipline of Communication Design.”
In 2002, he founded a dance society at the NCA which was for the fellow students interested in various genres of dance.
“The purpose behind the inception of the society was to set a tradition, to promote dances which reflect our folk or classical dances. This is unfortunate that people are mostly unwilling to put in dedication and instead seek shortcuts to learn the art,” he sighed.
His journey as Kathak dancer began when he met Beena Jawad who came to choreograph a performance by the Punjab Look Rehas where Adnan was also working.
“Beena Jawad groomed me for seven years until dance became a lifetime romance. She took me to Naheed Siddiqui; I have been visiting her ever weekend for four years before I moved to India for further training,” he narrates his journey to the dance world.
In India, he met legendary Indian Kathak dancer Kumudini Lakhia and had a workshop with her. “She was happy to see my ´Ang´(style of dance) , and congratulated Beena Jawad for discovering and grooming me,” he added.
Adnan was interested to stay in India to have training from Kumudini Lakhia who advised him to submit an application with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations for formalities. His application, however, was rejected because of, what he says, “my Pakistani nationality”.
Ms Lakhia recommended him to Guru Rajendra Gangani, widely respected and celebrated for his individual style of Kathak dance in India. She was kind enough to call Guru Rajendra who sent him legal papers to win Indian visa at the end of 2010. “I stayed with Guru Rajendra for two months and had long training sessions,” he smiles.
Since then, Adnan has been a frequenter to India for continuous training from Guru.
“He helped me develop my understanding of aesthetics of dance and conceptually groomed me a Kathak dancer. He also introduced me to a wide range of technical aspects of dance and advised me to focus on my own work rather than getting in comparison with other performers,” he said.
Unlike other male dancers in Pakistan, Adnan was lucky to have encouraging friends who kept him in the swim in his artistic journey.
He likes various genres of dance but he always felt Kathak close to his heart.
“It’s the form in which I can blend my emotions, tell a story and convey a message,” he says.
With countless performances in Pakistan and abroad, Adnan faced many ups and downs during his career as dancer which spans over two decades. Despite all odds, Adnan remained committed to the professions. He earned his living by working as teacher and photographer but never compromised on the quality of dance by following the commercial trends.
Popular for conceptual dance theatre choreography, Adnan is gifted with a sound sense of composing music and creating stunningly beautiful costumes.
That is why he stands out among his contemporaries for his masculine energy, balanced posture, flexibility and elegant hand movements.
Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2018