State Department brings Pakistani artists to US


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.

Keep reading at the Express Tribune.

Arthur Miller Goes Bollywood

Saw the National Academy of Performing Arts take on Arthur Miller’s All My Sons last night. The dialogue was in Urdu, but the acting was **expressive** enough for me to follow the major plot points. Miller intended All My Sons as a criticism of the American Dream. The short version is that a patriarch/factory owner, Joe, and his business partner sell faulty fighter plane parts to be used in WWII, causing the deaths of 21 pilots. Joe blames everything on his partner and avoids prison, so his partner goes to jail alone. The neighbors are typically two-faced—and the gossip is, he’s guilty. Then slowly, Ibsen-style, a series of truths reveal the tragedy of this once-perfect family.

NAPA changes some details to make the story seem “more familiar” to a Karachi audience. Instead of making fighter plane parts, NAPA’s Joe (who isn’t even Joe!) is a contractor who built faulty houses. In the 2008 earthquake, the houses collapsed and the inhabitants died.

NAPA’s staging had other distinct cultural markers, too.
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