To the Beat of a Different Drummer Performance art isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, witnessing dancer/actress Joshinder Chaggar perform could change one’s mind.
Her last act titled Conversations included a cat, earthworms and birds – and from what we hear, was hilarious to watch. This time round, however, Chaggar chose to go serious as she performed solo for her latest show, She Flies with the Swallows, a 20-minute performance at her studio in ActOne, before a small crowd of about 12 people.
With castanets as her only prop, Chaggar used her body and facial expressions to recreate the story of a swallow’s “quest for freedom,” as announced in the short introduction by Chaggar’s friend and fellow theatre actor, Sunil Shankar.
After the performance, the floor was open for questions and comments, as Chaggar explained her ideas on freedom: “The more I thought about freedom, the less free I felt. I realised that freedom is not about wiping away the past, but finding a way to co-exist. It is a constant battle between the Ego and the Self.”
She went on to explain that this was her fifth performance, and with each one, the story develops further, as if acquiring a life of its own.
Asked as to why she didn’t use any music in her act, Chaggar responded by saying that this was a question she is frequently asked, and conceded that while music would make her performance more enjoyable for others, she didn’t dance for approval, but as a means of self-expression.
Chaggar’s passion for her art is clearly visible, and the guts it takes to present something very personal for an audience who may or may not understand the intent behind the work – without the help of music, gimmicks or backup dancers – is certainly admirable. (0)
Think A New
This year marked the first that the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) celebrated International Literacy Day without its founding managing director, Professor Anita Ghulam Ali, who passed away in August. Contrary to popular opinion, she believed that the demand for education in Pakistan is phenomenal, even in the most conservative areas. And the only way to bridge the gap between demand and supply is to approach parents on a “one-on-one” basis.
Even though SEF has set up more than 2,300 schools in Sindh, 40 per cent of the children in Pakistan are still out of school. The panel discussion hosted by the Karachi School for Business and Leadership (KSBL), which included speakers Mohammad Babur (co-founder, Exploring Leadership and Learning Theories Association), Dr Suleiman Sheikh (chairperson, Thardeep Rural Development Programme) and Dr Fateh Mohammad Burfat (director, students guidance counseling Karachi University) aimed to discuss strategies for ‘sustainable literacy’ in Pakistan.
Encouraging a positive approach, Mohammad Babar pointed out the futility of pondering over the failures in education, asking institutions to instead analyse the reasons for the successes. He also added that the habit of educational institutions to be dismissive of old policies as complete failures, instead of building upon them, is the main reason for the sector’s poor performance in Pakistan. Shifting the focus to teachers, Dr Suleiman Sheikh explained that they need to be more involved with their students by extending their help beyond the classroom and taking an interest in the students’ personal lives too. Providing a rather unconventional insight, Dr Fateh Mohammad Burfat spoke about the need to reform the disciplinary aspect of education in Pakistan. The repeated use of the words “don’t talk” and “quiet” dampens children’s ambitions, he said. According to him, the term ‘education’ itself needs to be redefined to include the ability to make informed decisions and fulfill one’s emotional and psychological needs.
With the year 2015 – for which a target of achieving an 86 per cent literacy rate was set in the National Education Policy – within sight, the need for developing strategies for improving literacy rates in Pakistan is urgently required. (0)
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