Kashmir conflict explored through ‘BExchanged’

Three UTD artists will combine dance, music, movies, voice and culture in an attempt to shine light on a dark issue.

The conflict over Kashmir, a strategic strip of land between India and Pakistan, has lasted 57 years. Maryam Baig, a graduate student in Arts & Technology, explained that there have been two wars and any day there could be another war.

“But now, India and Pakistan are both nuclear powers,” Baig said.

Baig is Pakistani and said she chose to explore the topic artistically as a way to heal the emotional pain caused by the conflict. “BExchanged” is the result of her exploration.

“BExchanged,” a theatrical dance performance, scheduled for 8 p.m. Oct. 1-2, originated two years ago when Baig was working on her undergraduate performance thesis. Her 2002 thesis, “Baby Doesn’t Know” was Baig’s first work on the subject of the Kashmir conflict.

She collaborated with dance faculty member Micki Saba to generate her work. Baig will work with Saba again on what she calls an adaptation of her first work.

Baig’s adapted work serves as inspiration for four other choreographers, who will build on the subject of land struggles and the cultures of India and Pakistan. The show contains five works acknowledging the struggle over Kashmir.

Saba said she hopes the students come away from the multimedia dance event with more knowledge of the world.

“If it provokes any thought about the world around us I think that’s good,” Saba said. “I hope they learn something.”

Saba listed other land-related problems in the world including the Israel-Palestine conflict and Northern Ireland conflict. Saba will choreograph part of the production.

Approximately 25 artists will collaborate on the project, including dance faculty member Michele Hanlon.

Hanlon said she is working on a piece that blends modern and traditional dance. Her piece is called “Breach of Faith.”

“It’s a transitional piece expressing the two sides fighting over land – a universal conflict – not about any conflict, but the way that leaders get to their agenda by deception,” Hanlon said.

Like Saba and Baig, Hanlon said informing students about culture and the struggles of others is at the heart of the “BExchanged” performance.

“These works give a predominately American audience a real peek into what’s going on right now,” Hanlon said. “It’s something that you do not come across often. We hope it starts a debate and gets people to think about what these conflicts do to the people they affect.”

Hanlon said Alpana Jacobs, a local dancer, is performing with the UTD dance ensemble to enact traditional works.

Baig’s said Jacobs’ skill in traditional dances common to the Pakistani and Indian regions will add an authentic flare to the performances.

Tickets are free to UTD students with a valid student ID. For more information call 972-883-2982.

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