Collaborating with EnActe Arts, Kathak dancer Farah Yasmeen Shaikh is creating The Partition Project, highlighting stories from the 1947 India-Pakistan Partition through dance, music, and theater. When India gained its independence from the British in 1947, the country was divided into India, West Pakistan, and East Pakistan (later Bangladesh). Newly created borders and boundaries created an Islamic nation of Pakistan. This political act set in motion forced migration, leading to the world’s largest mass refugee crisis. Up to 25 million people were uprooted and nearly two million died in the subsequent violence. Tensions remain in the region in this, the 70th anniversary of Partition, and many of its witnesses and survivors are aging. Since 2016, Yasmeen Shaikh has been taking her work to Pakistan and has filmed the daily flag-lowering ceremony at the India-Pakistan border just outside of Lahore. She also has conducted research at the 1947 Partition Archive in Berkeley. Through this project, she and Vinita Sud Belani of EnActe Arts are transforming this material into a theatrical depiction of the stories, incorporating dance, language, music, and costuming. The project will premiere at Z Space in early 2018, and the artists hope to tour it.
Farah Yasmeen Shaikh was trained by the renowned Kathak master, the late Pandit Chitresh Das, studying and dancing with his company from 1998-2014. She has subsequently developed her own choreographic works, including The Twentieth Wife, which premiered in 2015. Based in Sunnyvale, Calif. EnActe Arts has produced and performed work throughout the United States and is committed to collaborations with other performing artists, arts organizations, corporations, and universities to foster arts in the community. It previously worked with Farah Yasmeen Shaikh on The Twentieth Wife.
Photo by Brooke Duthie