Ahmed Baloch is an artist and dancer by profession who specialises in Kathak dance. He was born in Teertej area of Awaran and is breaking stereotypes with his art.
Q: Tell us about your story. What inspired you to begin learning this art form and the difficulties that you faced?
Ahmed: I belong to district Awaran from where I studied till intermediate. For graduation, I went to the Centre of Excellence in Art & Design Mehran University of Engineering & Technology, Jamshoro and now I’m pursuing my masters from National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore.
As a performer who wears ankle bells to perform the classical dance, there are numerous difficulties that I had to face. Unfortunately, classical dance is considered a taboo in our society. However, I chose to go for my passion regardless of the general perception of my surroundings.
Dancers and choreographers like Birju Maharaj, Nighat Choudary and Sheema Kirmani always inspired me. However, I never realized what I was capable of until I met Sakkim Sukan after a performance. He guided me about Khattak, which is a famous classical dance performed in the subcontinent and around the globe. From then on, I started watching online videos from various YouTube channels to learn and refine my skills.
Q: What impact does this dance form has on you as a person and how does it help you bring closer to a totally different culture?
Ahmed: Classical dance is a part of my life. It’s a source of both happiness and sadness to me. I remember once when I was shivering with fever, I had a performance after which my fever just went away. This is the extent to which it affects me.
Q: How do you think a traditional art form such as classical dance can be made more appealing to the audience of Pakistan, especially to those in Balochistan?
Ahmed: This art form is almost non-existent in Balochistan, as compared to Lahore where renowned names such as Bina Jawad, Naheed Siddiqui, Umair Arif and many of those who are undertaking art classes exist. Balochistan needs art institutes in order to introduce these ancient art forms to the young generation so that anyone who likes to dance can have a proper platform to channel their energies in the right direction.
Q: Are there any memorable or exceptional performances which you would like to share with us?
Ahmed: I want to mention two very important performances in my life which affected me the most. The worst was back in 2015 when I was performing in University of Karachi, after which I received a huge backlash on social media.
The best amongst all my performances were in NCA’s recent festival where I received huge appreciation and recognition of my talent.
Q: Are parents in Pakistan open to investing the time and expense in their children if they are interested in dancing?
Ahmed: I don’t think there’s an acceptance for Kathak in our society and nobody would allow their children to pursue this field, unfortunately. Even my parents wanted me to go for the medical field, but I made sure I listened to my heart and didn’t fall prey to the societal pressure. Hence, I would suggest everyone pursue their passion as that is what will satisfy them in the long run.
Q: Which steps do you think should the country take to accommodate such talent as yours and where do you see yourself headed in the future?
Ahmed: Our country should think about including diverse art forms into the mainstream as only then people would show acceptance towards it. Art and culture are the main elements through which nations are recognized, and which should be preserved for the generations to come. The Government of Balochistan should consider opening up art institutes in the province, as there are people full of talent in Balochistan, all they need is a push to polish their skills.
Q: Any message for young dancers who want to pursue classical dance but hail from restricted cultures?
Answer: Dance, and feel free to dance! Perform it as a meditation, a spiritual connection that links a person to their soul and to God, and then go out to follow your passion.