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Puppetry, dance festivals

LAHORE: Folk puppetry and classical dance lovers will enjoy two festivals to be organised by the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop in the coming days.

The second annual National Dance Festival is beginning at the Rafi Peer Cultural Complex on Thursday (today). On March 21, the 10th yearly National Folk Puppet Festival will begin.

Usman Peerzada and Saadan Peerzada, along with Tasneem Peerzada, told journalists at the Lahore Press Club on Wednesday that Thursday’s was the first event they were organising after the death of Faizan Peerzada (who was the creative director of the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop).

They said the institution had been supporting performing arts since 1974. It’s a long journey and these festivals are taking place at such a time when people want a break from tension and daily worries.

They announced that the three-day National Dance Festival (March 14-16) would open at the Rafi Peer Cultural Complex on Thursday. It would be a remarkable amalgamation of traditions, styles and disciplines of dance from around Pakistan and its sub-continental history, they said.

The festival would have live dance performances by the most prominent dancers and choreographers in the country. The expected participants are Naheed Siddiqui, Sheema Kirmani, students of Indu Mitha, Wahab Shah and Nighat Chaudhry.

Giving brief introductions of the participating dancers, they said: “Naheed Siddiqui is the face of Kathak in Pakistan. Sheema Kirmani is a classical dancer, choreographer. She is a well-known theatre practitioner and an activist for women’s rights. Nighat Chaudhry, another jewel in the crown of classical dance, has studied ballet and contemporary dance. She has choreographed and performed her own pieces nationally and internationally.

“Wahab Shah is a choreographer and performer of international calibre. He has been a choreographer to A.R. Rehman, Sonu Nigham, Usha Uttap and many others.”

They said Naheed Siddiqui would perform at the inaugural evening of the festival. It would be followed by a 90-minute documentary ‘Laatoo’ directed by Faizan Pirzada and Alix Philippon. The documentary explores the state of classical dance in Pakistan. It unfolds the trials and tribulations in the lives of a handful of professional dancers, namely Naheed Siddiqui, Sheema Kirmani, Tehreem Mitha, Indu Mitha and Fasiur Rehman.

On March 15, Nighat Chauhdry would perform and so would Wahab Shah. Sheema Kirmani’s performance is on 16th and Indu Mitha’s students would also perform the same day.

Giving details of the folk puppet festival, the Peerzadas told the media that it was a four-day festival starting on March 21. The festival is an annual event which celebrates folk puppeteers, story-tellers and local craft. It is a week-long activity which draws adults and children alike.

Usman Peerzada said the objective of the festival was to promote the traditional folk arts and performers from Pakistan and other countries.

Saadan Peerzada said there would be shows by the folk puppeteers of Pakistan and other countries. This year Sunbeam-Moon Light Puppet Theatre from Iran, Teatret Lampe from Denmark, Kattas Figurteater Ensemble from Norway, Khairati Ram Bhat Puppet Group from Rajasthan-India and 150 puppeteers from Pakistan would participate, he said.