Eloquent and informative, Hajera Sheikh’s documentary Kathak: Dancing With Taboos tells a story of love for one’s culture and perseverance through adversity.
Part of Incluvie’s 2020 Film Festival, the short documentary is about Kathak — a narrative dance form, one of the major dance forms of the Indian subcontinent, and an important element of Pakistani culture. In the film, Bina Jawwad, who has been performing since she was young, speaks about her experience with this part of her culture.
I found it incredibly inspiring to hear Jawwad speak. She recounts dancing when it was illegal during a dictatorship and continuing to dance when it was taboo after the dictatorship ended. Her passion for preserving and sharing her culture through difficulty and taboo shines when she speaks about how she feels when she performs. “I cease to exist. Only the dance and the feeling of it remains,” she says.
Footage of Jawwad and others performing Kathak throughout the film beautifully displays this dance form, and was, I thought, very impactful in showing the importance of this element of Pakistani culture. When we watch Jawwad teaching Kathak at points throughout the film, we get a strong sense of the love she feels for this dance form and her passion for passing it on.
I thought that this film did an excellent job of infusing information with feeling, and I would highly recommend watching this short documentary to learn about Kathak!
Originally published on December 16, 2020.