How the Dwindling Cultural Events and Festivals have Thrown Artists in a Quandary

Iftikhar Masih a talented classical dancer has promoted Pakistan’s art and culture in various countries of the world such as China, Japan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Currently Iftikhar is severing as a dance teacher in a well-known dancing school Rung situated in the F/8 sector of Islamabad. Recently team YOLO had the opportunity to interview the talented Mr. Iftikhar Masih and this is what he has to say.

When did you realize that you have an aptitude for dancing?

I am from Lahore so while growing up I use to dance at weddings or wherever the opportunity arose. Later I came across some other boys who like me also had a natural flair for dancing so we rented a place and started a dance academy.

How long have you been associated with this profession and when was it that you decided to pursue dancing as a career?

I have been associated with dancing since 1999 as initially I got the opportunity to perform with Abrar ul-Haq and Humera Arshad. Later I moved to Islamabad and was fortunate enough to be introduced to Indu Mitha gi who formally taught me classical dancing. Later I learned Bollywood style dancing from a dance teacher. I joined PNCA to learn folk dancing however I remained associate with the organization for 10 years as a dance teacher. Later I joined Lok Virsa and remained associated with it for a while before joining Rung school as a dance teacher.

Was your family initially supportive of your decision of becoming a dancer?

Initially my family had a mixed reaction to my decision of becoming a dancer. Some had a little objection while others were happy.  However, when they saw me achieving recognition as a dancer they were surely very happy.

 In your opinion is dancing rewarding enough to be pursed as a profession or should it be taken as a hobby?

Dancing is not a very profitable profession considering the dwindling cultural events and activities therefore one must have an alternative career to sustain oneself.  During former President Musharraf’s tenure the field of art and culture experienced an unprecedented boom therefore dancers could think of pursuing dancing as a career back then. However, with the ouster of Musharraf cultural activities and festivals began to dwindle therefore dancing is certainly not as profitable as it used to be.

Do you think that the present government is doing enough to promote art and culture?

Many artists showed up in support of PTI’s popular sit-in protest in Islamabad a few years back. Since music was a vital part of that protest therefore there was this false notion that promotion of art and culture will be of great importance. The artist community had many expectations from the present government when they came into power. However, with the passage of time our hopes are fading as nothing substantial has been done for the artist community as per my knowledge. Moreover, the dwindling cultural events and festivals have thrown artists in a serious financial quandary.

 What is your message for the youth?

My message for the youth is that hard work never goes in vain.  However, if you aspire to be a dancer you must have an alternative career in order to be financially strong.

 

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