Liaquat Ali Lucky (3-L) presents a young dancer with the Bulbul Chowdhury Dance Scholarship. Two dancers were awarded the scholarships in a programme held at the Shilpakala Academy yesterday. Photo: RIDWAN ADID RUPON
Minu Haque, a prominent figure in the artistic community and one of the most renowned and versatile dancer-choreographers in Bangladesh today, has been an avid dancer since her early childhood. Having discovered her true calling at the tender age of six, she trained under a diverse group of different dance masters throughout the years since, which enriched her own techniques, and understanding of the essence of dance.
Haque first trained under Dulal Talukder, who later went on to teach dance at Harvard. And after she earned her Certification of Dance from Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts, where she was schooled by artists like Babu Ramsingh, Habibul Chowdhury and Rahiza Khanam Jhunu, she went on to be trained under Shantibala Devi in the Manipuri style, learned ballet from visiting North Korean ballet artist Mr. Kim and finally studied Odissi, the dance form for which she is best known, with Sani Mohapatra and Ipshita Behura, both highly respected Odissi dancers in their own rights. Her knowledge on different forms of dance has made her an important figure on the dance community.
Haque explains that though all dances have different techniques and formations that are more clearly visible to those with a trained eye, dance overall shares the same philosophy. It celebrates the unison of mind and body to create the beautiful harmony of movement, which in itself is a form of freedom.
Though Haque left the dance scene in her prime on a self-imposed hiatus to successfully raise her two sons, she returned afterwards with ease and soon became a leading figure on the dance scene. Haque now holds the prestigious honour of being the current president of the Bangladesh Nrittya Shilpi Sangstha (Dance Artistes' Association) and has already made huge strides in overcoming roadblocks and demolishing the baseless stigmas attached to the expressive art form of dance. Examples of her success are the establishment of the first ever dance department at Dhaka University, whose final details are currently being processed and to be announced any time soon. “This was a great victory for the Dance Artistes' Association and all those involved, as we have been working tirelessly for years just to see this day; this is a great victory for artists everywhere,” says Haque with pride.
Another example of her ceaseless work for the betterment of dancers in Bangladesh is the formation of the first ever, “Bulbul Chowdhury Dance Scholarship” in honour and memory of the late Bulbul Chowdhury, one of the pioneers and finest dancers of Bengal. The scholarship being the first of its kind was made possible by a donation. Haque explains that she though she herself never works to make a profit, donations -- even small ones -- are always welcome and are what make these projects and dreams possible.
Haque's own school Pallavi Dance Center, established in 1997 due to popular demand, combines the rare dance genres of Odissi and Bharatanatyam along with contemporary and folk styles, into one learning environment made easily accessible to children of all ages. These lessons also gradually instill among children: discipline, determination and appreciation for the ethereal beauty of dance. Haque is also planning to soon introduce the Manipuri dance form into the school as well.
Even with these responsibilities and engagements, Minu Haque is involved in an array of projects and still has time to spare to lend her command of dance and choreography to those in need.