Vol. 5 Num 41 Wed. July 07, 2004  

Exchanging notes with Minu Haque
Odissi gets a new lease of life with Nrittyadhara

Minu Haque, one of the foremost exponents of classical dance in Bangladesh and a well- known cultural activist, was born in a family with a rich cultural background.

Minu has pursued her hobby and passion since her childhood. A Masters in Psychology from Dhaka University, she graduated with a diploma in classical dance from Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts (BAFA) in 1972. Her teachers at BAFA were Babu Ram Singh, Dulal Talukder and later Rahiza Khanom Jhunoo.

Later in her career, she chose to specialise in Odissi. She was trained in this dance form between 1988 and 1995 by two well- known exponents on Odissi, Sunny Mahapatra and Ipshita Behura from India.

Having taken her dance lessons from these two Gurus, she established an Odissi dance school called Pallavi in 1997. In 2003, Pallavi arranged its first dance programme on Odissi dance, which was highly appreciated by the audience.

Minu did not confine herself to Pallavi only. She said, 'As a performer and teacher, I have an equal affinity for all the branches of dance.' To familiarise people with all kinds of dance that are practiced in the country, she joined Nrittyadhara. She is the convener of this organisation. Marking the 1st anniversary of Nrittyadhara, a dance festival was organised in 2002.

While projecting her future plans, Minu Haque said, 'I am trying to revive the dance heritage of our country through Nrittyadhara and at the same time, I will be teaching pure Odissi dance with Pallavi. Because the first step to classical dance is to be properly acquainted with the classical dance structure, the correct beginning is immensely important for learning classical dance. We are trying to express our social responsibility through Nrittyadhara on stage.'

Minu Haque has traveled widely with national dance tours in the late 1960s (from former East Pakistan) in South East Asia. After the liberation of Bangladesh, she joined the Performing Arts Academy and toured widely in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, East Europe and UK. She has also traveled with dance tours, on a number of occasions, to India, Middle East and the USA.

She is the General Secretary of International Dance Council, a Member of International Theatre Institute, Vice President of Bangladesh Dance Artiste's Association and Trustee of Sadhona-A center for advancement of sub continental music.

Apart from the above activities, Minu seeks to give a new lease of life to Odissi by introducing this art form at the primary educational level along with many other dances.

Dance performer- teacher Minu Haque sadly expressed her disappointment with the meagre patronage of dance by the powers that be. She wants the government to come forward and help conserve our national cultural heritage by adopting a definite set of rules for the promotion of this art form.

Graceful Odissi dancers of Nrittyadhara