Roughly a dozen part-time dancers clustered in three corners of BodyBeat’s studio, dressed in everything from sweatpants to shalwar kameez. Some were barefoot, some were in sneakers; one man even wore cowboy boots.
Asad Jafri, the director of Arts and Culture at the Inner-city Muslim Action Network in Chicago, stood in the centre of the room, pointing at the groups one by one. The bass section began a deep rhythmic chant. Then the tenor section came in like a handful of doo-wop girls, and finally, the room filled with the choral swell of the sopranos.
“Good vocals, but you’re off rhythm,” Jafri said.
“If there was a metronome, everything would be synched,” protested a member of the bass section.
Jafri grinned. “That’s the point,” he said. “Your section has to be the metronome.”
Jafri was leading a multi-genre hip-hop dance workshop in conjunction with Center Stage, a US State Department programme to bring performing artists from Pakistan, Indonesia and Haiti to towns across the US in 2012. This was the third day in Karachi for the Center Stage production team, which includes four representatives from regional US arts organisations.
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