CMA Stories

6 Fun Facts about Traditional Pakistani Dances

Join us on Sunday, March 18 to celebrate Pakistani culture with us. There will be workshops inspired by traditional and contemporary arts practices accompanied by children’s book reading by the Hudson Park Branch of the New York Public Library and a performance of Pakistani music presented by the community based arts organization, Eric Ki Bethak, in partnership with the National Youth Organization of Pakistan.

Throughout the festival we will be creating layered mixed media art inspired by Shahzia Sikander and our own decorative trucks of Karachi in Fine Arts, remixing Pakistani Pop in the Sound Booth, sculpting the fauna of Pakistan in the Clay Bar, and much more!

To get us ready to dance to our creations in the Sound Booth, here are six fun facts about traditional Pakistani dances:
1. With its fast paced and energetic style, the bhangra is the most famous dance in Pakistan and India. There are 3 types of dances that have come out of bhangra: traditional, free form, and modern. Modern bhangra became popular in the 1990’s and is a mix of traditional and Western style of dance.
2. The kikkli or kikli dance is performed by two dancers holding hands and twirling each other in a circle, balancing themselves in circular motions while other members of the group clap and sing. Do you think you can recreate this dance with a friend or family member? How hard do you think it might be to stay balanced while twirling really fast?
3. The khattak is a martial arts dance originating from the Pashtuns traditionally danced to prepare for war while carrying a sword and handkerchief. How fast do you think performers dance while holding a sword? Look it up!
4. The giddha is a fun and energetic dance meant to represent Punjabi life. It is danced in a circle, with a dancer sitting in the center of the ring playing the only instrument used for music: the dholki or drum. With no rigid choreography, the Giddha is usually improvised. If you’re sitting, get up and improvise your own dance!
5. Similarly to the giddha, the luddi starts with dancers singing to the beat of a drum then joined in a circle to dance. Typically, clapping and the beating of the feet is the only music throughout the dance. This joyful dance was traditionally performed to celebrate a war victory. How do you celebrate your victories?
6. Another lively dance is called the jhoomer or jhumar. The word “jhumar” comes from jhum/jhoom, which means swaying. In jhumar, the dancers recreate the gaits of animals along with moments in everyday life. What kind of dance would you make to represent a day in your life?

Look up these dances and see if you can keep up with the performers!

This program is supported, in part, by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. 

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