KARACHI: Friday night offered Karachi a rather unusual and unique dose of entertainment. And no, it wasn’t the night-long blackout triggered by some rain but rather the thunderous beat of tabla, as Alaina Roy’s ghungru clinked at her feet with each move. An event titled ‘Kathak – Kal Se Aaj Tak’ was taking place at The Second Floor (T2F) – the first solo show in Pakistan for the young dancer.
With Yusuf Kera on tabla and Salman Wazir on harmonium, Roy traced the evolution of the fading dance form with her graceful movements. Kathak began as a folk dance with villagers carrying instruments and going from door to door telling stories. It was then embraced by temples and used to tell mythological stories.
Each of Roy’s performance focused on one aspect and form of kathakduring a certain period of time, starting with a classical piece which highlighted the early Nritta (pure dance) aspect. The next piece depicted kathak through the Mughal era, where it was used to tell different stories, which meant the spiritual or religious aspects of the dance had faded by then. It became a popular form of entertainment due to its depiction of love and other emotions.
Arieb Azhar, director of T2F and founder of Music Mela and Art Langar, then performed Sham-e-Qalandar and Aaj Jane Ki Zid Na Karo as Roy swayed alongside. Next singer-songwriter Ifti, who has produced OSTs for dramas including Main Abdul Qadir Hoon, sang Peera Ho.
Roy’s subsequent performance on Dam Mast Qalandar and Kailash Kher’s Teri Deewani depicted kathak in a combination of Sufism, folk and contemporary music. The finale was a six-minute performance on Bickram Ghosh’s contemporary kathak piece Rhythm Speaks, which showcased Roy’s talents in all its glory.
Several celebrities attended the evening and were awed by the young dancer. “It was mesmerising. Alaina was just beautiful and I couldn’t take my eyes off her fluid movements,” Ayesha Omar told The Express Tribune. “Also, the choice of the songs was great. The musicians also performed really well but of course, the star of the night was Alaina. She was absolutely lovely.”
Frieha Altaf revealed she had worked with Roy two years ago. “She has really matured since then. I wanted to do kathak when I was younger but I was never allowed to. And my daughter wanted to do kathak as well, so I understand and appreciate Roy’s talents and progression,” she said. “We don’t see a lot of young people taking up this art form. This is why we must encourage talents like Roy.”
Actor Angeline Malik also complemented Roy’s technique of Saatwika Abhinaya, which is the use of facial expressions to convey emotions and stories in kathak.