Nighat Chaodhry, the iconic classical dancer and the Queen of Kathak from Pakistan, will be the delight of Sydney’s art lovers when she will perform on 17 February in Hurtsville Marana auditorium.
“Nighat Chaodhry is Pakistan’s cultural ambassador who is coming with a message of peace and harmony. She is painting a soft image of her country through her performances around the world,” says Shahid Malik of Art On, the organiser of Nighat Chaodhry show in Sydney.
Nighat Chaodhry is the second biggest name in Kathak in Pakistan after legendary Naheed Siddiqui, who trained Chaodhry when she was learning ballet in London as a teenage girl.
Nighat Chaodhry’s journey from Ballet to becoming the Queen of Kathak
Nighat was born in Pakistan but grew up in Britain, where she studied ballet and contemporary dance. She has been a dancer from an early age as her skills were vividly visible when she was still a toddler.
She completed her formal education from London in O and A levels and was certified in a Dance Foundation Course from the Laban Center for Movement and Dance, Goldsmith’s College, London. But her ballet career took a turn when she met Naheed Siddiqu in London at the age of fourteen. Naheed, regarded as one of the greatest Kathak dancers, inspired her to learn the classical forms of her own culture. Nighat abandoned ballet and joined to understand and absorb the nuances of the style.
Nighat also got herself trained in Kathak from the venerated institution of Kathak Kendra in Delhi, from Pandit Durga Lal of the Jaipur gharana. Today she is a force to reckon with, an institution to look forward to. With her newly founded, National Dance Foundations, she aims to preserve the dance heritage of Pakistan. Under her belt two esteemed projects have already set in namely “Classical Dances of Pakistan (Since Partition)” and “Mountain Dances of Pakistan”.
She belongs to a literary family from her father’s side and the business world from her mother’s side. Her grandfather from her maternal side had a renowned business by the name of Chaudhry hosiery mills before partition in Dacca, Ludhiana, Lahore and Faisalabad, while her father Abdur-Rehman Chaudhry was a professor at Government College in Lahore.
Farooq Chaudhry is her brother, who graduated with a bachelor’s in Dance Performance from The Place (Sadler’s Wells Theatre) in London and performed as an international professional dancer in the eighties and nineties. He received an Asian Achievement Award for his work as a performer in 1988. In 1999, he retired from dancing and completed an MA in Arts Management from City, University of London.
In 2000 Farooq Chaudhry co-founded the Akram Kham company and became the company producer. He has had leadership roles as a producer for the English National Ballet in October 2013 and an international executive director for China’s National Dance icon Yang Liping since 2016.
Nighat Chaodhry was appointed as a lead Kathak Dancer in Nahid Siddiqui’s Dance Company London in 1996. Then in 2001, she started working as a Director of Pakistan National Council of the Arts. She created a Dance Syllabus and taught as a Performing Arts Dance instructor at Lahore Grammar School in 2010. In 2012 she taught dance as a Dance teacher at HeadStart School Islamabad. In 2013 she taught at Kuch Khaas Center for Arts culture & dialogue and Liberal Arts High School Islamabad. Presently, she is teaching dance at Faiz Gharand her own institute, Institute of Performing Arts.
Performances as a Cultural Ambassador
She was noticed for her extraordinary dance talent and was chosen to represent Pakistan in the Asian Advertising Congress in Seoul, South Korea in 1985 and the Great hall of China in 1987. In 1995, she was invited by Citibank and had the honor to perform for the ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher at the Lahore Fort. In 2009, she performed at AGHA KHAN FOUNDATION, a collaborative dance performance for the WORLD’S OF THE INDIAN OCEAN in Karachi.
In 2012, she performed at the WIEF JOHOR BAHRU MALAYSIA 8TH WORLD ISLAMIC ECONOMIC FORUM. In 2016, she choreographed and performed as Cultural leading ambassador, in the World Cultural Festival among 155 countries at the platform of the ART OF LIVING SRI SRI Ravi Shankar in Delhi India. She has performed to great acclaim in many countries around the world like Japan, China, Sicily, Rome, Singapore, India, England, Austria, France, Germany, Mauritius, and USA. Apart from participating in a number of the International Dance and Theatre Festivals in Pakistan, she has represented the country on platforms like the American Dance Festival in the States, and the Young Dancer’s Festival in India, and many others.
Nighat Chaodhry Foundation (NCF)
Nighat Chaodhry established her NGO the Nighat Chaodhry Foundation in 2016 and her vision for NCF is to re-connect the people of Pakistan to their cultural identity to their heritage. She wants to establish performing arts as education, to document and preserve to cultural heritage, to prevent the decaying of its presence among us as a society. Her aim and goal of the Nighat Chaodhry foundation (NCF) is to encourage, empower and create a transformation space for the youth, the women and all the people of Pakistan, a platform to embrace our cultural heritage and performing arts as a means of human development, a healing of our cultural wounds and an evolving of our communities with a connection back into the cultural fabric and cultural roots of Pakistan.
It gives her immense pleasure to present the Nighat Chaodhry Foundation to all the people of Pakistan and guide them towards a true ownership of a cultural heritage.