Project Description

The Forgotten Empress | Farah Yasmeen Shaikh

The Forgotten Empress | Farah Yasmeen Shaikh

The Story of an Empress who Ruled behind a Veil | Kathak Dance, Live Music and Theatre

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The Forgotten Empress is a dynamic-dance drama based on the history and life of Empress Noor Jahan exploring the influence she had in 17th century Mughal India, and how she maintained her delicate power in a male dominated empire only to be almost forgotten in the latter years of her life and in death.

Through an enthralling performance of South Asian classical dance, live music, multimedia, and theater, acclaimed American-Muslim Kathak artist Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, Playwright and Director Matthew Spangler, and original live score by Musical Director Salar Nader, along with their team of world-class musicians and actors, deliver the spectrum of emotions, relationships and occurrences surrounding this powerful woman. The Forgotten Empress can be coupled with a wide range of educational activities.


Displaying passion and compassion in all of her work, Farah Yasmeen Shaikh is known for her powerful and evocative storytelling, technical precision, delicacy and grace. An internationally touring Kathak artist, and Founder and Artistic Director of Noorani Dance, Farah, a former member of the Chitresh Das Dance Company, was trained for two decades by the late Pandit Chitresh Das and now performs her own traditional and innovative work. Working extensively in Pakistan, Farah now performs and teaches on an ongoing basis throughout the country.


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…an exquisite combination of dance, live music, multimedia, and theater.
NBC Los Angeles
Shaikh and her team provided a sensory extravaganza with flawless choreography, soulful music, melodious singing, powerful narration…
India Post
The storytelling heritage of kathak sizzled on-stage as the vehicle for engrossing plot lines.
Lovers of music and dance were thoroughly entertained.
Dawn (Pakistani News Outlet)


Kathak, with powerful movement and technique juxtaposed with subtle and delicate beauty, Farah showcases these opposing yet complimentary elements through a visually rhythmic journey of dance and music. The performance is compiled of short vignettes highlighting the various aspects of kathak.

Approximate length: 1 to 1.5 hour
Most enjoyable with live music (3-4 musicians), but can be performed to recorded music.

A multi-sensory interpretation inspired by real-life stories of the survivors of the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan performed through dance, theater, music and visual projection. The Parting, created by Farah Yasmeen Shaikh / Noorani Dance and Vinita Sud Belani / EnActe Arts incorporates various forms of classical and folk dance from South Asia and a cast of multigenerational actors, coming together to deliver an emotional and thought provoking rendition of this pivotal time in the history of South Asia.

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