Social Rhythm

Social Rhythm

In her show Black and White,Kathak artiste Rani Khanam has used theatre and dance as a medium of activism

Art and activism will come together on stage today in a dance-theatre performance titled Black and White. Conceptualised and choreographed by Rani Khanam — a Kathak dancer,teacher and choreographer — who,through the act,seeks to understand the true position of Muslim women in India under Muslim personal law. Black and White,says Khanam,interfaces with many issues concerning today’s times — rights of minorities,gender concerns,law and justice,modernity and tradition,technology and progress,equality and inclusiveness,and above all,the pursuit of happiness. “The show’s title,Black and White,has been deliberately chosen. In a multi-coloured nation like India,reality is more evident in black and white,” says Khanam,whose show will premiere in Chandigarh today. She is performing here at the invitation of Sangeet Natak Akademi.

Black and White is part of a series of programmes created by Kri Foundation,which has consciously tried to bring together arts,scholarship and social issues in a positive framework.

Ameeta Parsuram,a Psychology professor at the Delhi University and a poet,has written the script and poetry to carry forward the theme. “Being a Muslim and having seen women’s position in the society from close quarters,I wanted to talk about the issues that Muslim woman face in contemporary society. An artiste is more sensitive to the pain of others,and this work has been in my heart for almost 10 years,” says Khanam,an astute interpreter of the Lucknow gharana.

She also performs on the verses of Sufiana compositions. The new creative work,while based in classical Kathak tradition,will boast of innovative choreography and music,adding a new dimension to the serious core of the performance.


Extensive research,interactions with scholars,studying cases of women who have faced neglect and discrimination,and a close look at the laws,says Khanam,have been part of her research for Black and White. “A lot of laws are misunderstood and misinterpreted and there is a great deal of confusion that needs immediate attention. I hope that with this work,which addresses the issues of divorce,separation and widow rights,we will be able to make women aware of their rights. Rigidity is a bane and needs immediate redressal,” she adds.

Black and White will be staged today at Tagore Theatre,at 7 pm

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