The man whose rhythm beats norms, one step at a time

Apr 20, 2018

Zaheer Zarf The Baloch people are known for their love of art. But it is seldom that you hear of a Baloch man who performs kathak. Kathak is a popular classical dance form in India and Pakistan. However, it is considered the domain of women alone. Ahmed Baloch cares little about what is considered normal. He ties the ghungroo around his ankles and dances. With each dance step, he crushes the limitations of a conservative society under his feet. Ahmed was born in Awaran, which is among the most deprived parts of Balochistan. While the 2013 earthquake reduced many Awaran houses to rubble, they failed to shake Ahmed’s resolve. He headed to Quetta and earned a four-year degree in fine arts from Mehran University. The 25-year-old is not one to care about judgements. Instead, he listens to what his heart says. “The beat of the ghungroo really touched me,” he said. “The sound carried a strange attraction for me. Then, when I saw maestros like Birju Maharaj perform kathak wearing the ghungroo, I knew that I wanted to acquire the skill.” According to him, he learnt everything by watching the videos of Birju Maharaj as there are barely any kathak teachers in Pakistan. How does he manage the conservative criticism? “I have never cared about what people think,” said Ahmed. “Everyone knows about the societal regression that we are facing. But I’m not answerable to anyone. Neither do I have the time. My family is the dearest to me and they support me. That’s enough for me.” Does he have a future as a kathak performer? “I did not acquire the skill for a future,” he said. “I just wanted to discover myself, which I did. I have never performed for money. I will never do that. Dance is my power and it makes me happy.” But Ahmed feels suffocated. “I just want to get out of this repressive society,” he said. Where does he want to go? “Wherever my journey takes me, wherever I can breathe in peace. There is a lot of suffocation in Pakistan and it’s difficult for me to live here. I just want to breathe and I breathe through dance. I want to fly. And for that, I just need two wings. Just two wings…”




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