One dance a month: Celebrating a shared culture, choreographer-dancer Tehreema Mitha launches video channel

One dance a month: Celebrating a shared culture, choreographer-dancer Tehreema Mitha launches video channel
Tehreema Mitha with mother, dance guru Indu Mitha to whom her piece Ayree Maa is dedicated, the first post on her new channel. Photo courtesy TMDC

“The subcontinent has a shared history dating back thousands of years. The good, the bad and the amazing, the whole of history belongs to all of us”, says choreographer and dancer Tehreema Mitha.

Born and trained in Pakistan, Mitha has been performing professionally for 35 years. She runs a professional dance company she launched in 2001, for the last few years from the US where she is now based.

With her Muslim, South Asian, American background, Tehreema Mitha defies an easy description both personally and professionally. She is an artist, composer, singer, visual artist, writer, and poet, besides her better known identities as a dancer and choreographer.

Mitha has recently branched into online production, launching her own YouTube channel with free subscriptions. The channel provides subscribers access to her dance performance archives, including some 70 original dances with specially composed music, which she will share regularly, one dance a month.

A pioneer in innovative “Classical Bharatanatyam (Kalakshetra)” with a style all her own, she uses North Indian music specially composed for each dance. Her choreographic technique is athletic while the themes are empathetically universal.

“Bridging Dances” her term for dances that use strong classical technique with a format that is far from traditional. The result is bold, complex, and visually refreshing.

The third style she works with, “Contemporary”, tends to be ahead of its time both in topic and approach. Released from classical strictures it is dramatic in movement and presentation. It includes elements that range from the humorous to the unexpected, giving a sense of moving forward with the world. With storytelling at its heart, the dance form also stays earth based.

Besides the main archives Mitha will present her songs along with brief spoken explanations. The most recent of these is A New Age Lullaby, which recently premiered on her channel. The unusual and haunting melody, arrangement, lyrics and vocals are all by Mitha, “dedicated to our child and all children of the world”.

A New Age Lullaby: For grownups, parents, children – and the environment

The refrain “Sleep little one, sleep, sleep little one” is a lullaby “for grownups, parents, children” and all those who believe in working to combat climate change.

The video also shows Soumya Chakraverty on the sarod, Haroon Alam on table, and Domenic Sabol on cello, interspersed with archival footage by Shireen Pasha and William Barron.

“Don’t forget to plug in your headphones while you watch so that you enjoy the full effect of the music,” says Tehreema Mitha, inviting music, dance, peace and environment lovers to join her in her celebration and observation of our shared culture.

— Beena Sarwar

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