Mushtari Afroz was introduced to Bengali folk dance at a young age in Dhaka, Bangladesh, her hometown. Her training in North Indian Classical Dance form ‘Kathak’ began when she immigrated to Canada in the early 2000. After studying with her first Guru Joanna De Souza in Toronto she started advanced training in Lucknow style of Kathak under the tutelage of Ms. Saveeta Sharma at Upasana – The Spirit of Dance. She also trained in Jaipur style of Kathak under the tutelage of Mr. Hemant Panwar at Panwar Music and Dance School. Funding from Canada Council for the Arts and UK’s Milapfest Foundation helped her pursue training with the living legend of Kathak –Pandit Birju Maharaj– and the leading contemporary Kathak artist -Ms. Aditi Mangaldas- in Liverpool, UK in a workshop setting. Her interest in the recent development of contemporary aesthetics in dance has also motivated her to study with some of the leading choreographers in Canada and abroad.
In 2016 Mushtari founded Kathak Bandi Dance Collective that aims to celebrate human stories and experience through dance, music and theatre. Since its inception the collective has created original works in collaboration with many Canadian artists and presented them at Night Shift by Citadel + Compagnie Toronto, Dance Matters, HH11 Dance Festival USA, Abhinayam Dance Network, MUSE Arts and Asian Heritage Month Festival to name a few. Inspired by the recent development in the contemporary dance in non-conventional theatre spaces, she has presented her work at Aga Khan Museum’s lobbies and courtyards as part of its Pop-Up Performance and Open Rehearsal series.
Currently, with a Research and Creation grant from The Canada Council for the Arts Mushtari is working on a new project titled ‘SOM’ that she aims to premiere in 2021.
Normality is an illusion just like a mirage. Giving us a sense of comfort for a short while, then it disappears before reappearing in a new form. Transient, unstable and on a continuous journey like a river it shifts our life’s trajectory, contorts our purpose, and throws us into the abyss of whirlpool while renewing us for a new time. This elusive journey has been continuing since the dawn of human civilization.
The question is ‘is the human species capable of adapting to the continuously shifting normal?’ History suggests that since time immemorial the human mind has risen up time and again in the face of adversity and reshaped its existence whenever new reality became inevitable confirming Theoretical Physicist Dr. Brian Greene’s observation: ‘humans are the special collections of particles within the purposeless universe that have evolved to think, feel and reflect to create purpose.’
COVID-19 is now our reality and in the future, the slow-burning crisis of climate change will take that place. Are we, as artists, resilient enough to turn these dark ruptures in life into inspirations to courageously re-imagine creativity that will stand the test of uncertain times to give hope to the future of quintessentially human art forms?
This project was born in response to the absurd existential conditions that mankind all over the globe has been experiencing since the beginning of the lock-down and was developed in collaboration with Imran Noor Mohammed (Theatre Artist, Canada), Tanveer Alam Shawjeeb (Music Composer, Canada & Bangladesh), Dewan Karim (Home Camera for Mushtari, Canada) and Booster Rocket Media (Video Direction and Editing) while respecting the social distancing policy of the province of Ontario.
Link to Video:
10 minute excerpt:
Diane Wong, Elizabeth Davis, Tamara Harkness, Chaeyeon Park, Sarah Piché.