Pakistan: Two South Indian dance teachers stand up to ban



Two teachers of South Indian dance stand up to religious ban on dance

For the past 53 years, Indu and Tehreema Mitha have been doing the impossible in Pakistan: teaching South Indian dance, Bharatanatyam, to Muslim girls in a country where Islamic clergymen will not allow girls to dance

Without any fanfare or publicity, the mother-daughter team has been diligently teaching Bharatanatyam dance to Muslim girls in a country where Islamic zealots will not allow girls to dance, and where an avowedly Islamic state has all, but banned public dance performances by women.

Indu and Tehreema have been the only teachers of Bharatanatyam, or perhaps, any form of classical dance, in Pakistan. In their brave and sustained effort to find a foothold for Bharatanatyam in an unfriendly environment, they have adapted this essentially “Hinduistic” South Indian art form, to the cultural ethos, the religious background and tastes of the Pakistanis.

First formal public stage performance

Although Bharatanatyam, like any other classical dance, is still to strike roots in Pakistan, the dancing duo has made a seminal contribution to dance by creating a distinctly “Pakistani” Bharatanatyam and setting an example to others wanting to make cross-cultural adaptations in an increasingly globalised world.      

Under the tutelage of Indu and Tehreema Mitha, three Pakistani Muslim girls, Sultana Noon, Sophia Khwaja and Nadia Khan, had dedicated themselves to this alien art form, completed a rigorous course, and had an arangetram – a student’s first formal public stage performance before an invited audience. 



AsiaPeace, Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA)

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