The first dance festival was held in 1995 and subsequently, its scope was enlarged to include theatre as well as dance. Theatre and Dance festivals were held subsequently in 1996,1997 and 1999.
International Theatre and Dance Festivals
This was Pakistan’s first true exposure to international theatre. Pakistani theatre, though vibrant, had a very narrow base and very little patronage. Experiments in themes and forms, too, were influenced by local experiences. These festivals opened people’s eyes to the diversity of theatre in the world and the various levels of interpretation that the classics were performed to. The expertise in lighting and set and costumes too was extremely educative for the theatre practitioners in the country.
The festivals have usually been centred around themes. The theme of the 2nd theatre and dance festival was freedom and independence since the year also marked the fiftieth anniversary of independence from colonial rule. The theme of the 3rd festival was celebrating innovation.
Dance is a subject that is considered taboo in the country and hence it is not a living art form. The festivals tremendously helped encourage dance, and the various experimentations at the festivals have been mindboggling. There have been classical variations, avant-garde, and new forms that were performed by groups from all over the world, including India. This also gave an opportunity to the local dancers to perform to a wider audience and helped them through interaction with dancers from all over the world.
Even those plays that were not in English were so captivating that they were enjoyed by the audience. There were all kinds of plays – from the classics to contemporary, from the traditional to very experimental, and the experience was truly amazing.