Morsheda Begum Shilpi was different from other girls of her age. She used to take her bicycle and rode in the wind like a bird. She also began to take dance lessons at a very young age. She never quitted dancing no matter what.
Dancing was the passion of Morsheda, born in Naogaon, and it was her way to express herself. That passion brought her an excellent recognition finally.
Morsheda Begum, mostly known as Shilpi, has been honoured as the member of International Dance Council of UNESCO. Her dance academy ‘Nritya Niketan’ has been awarded with the membership of the council, too.
Morsheda, the dance director of Nritya Niketan, received the official letter from the UN organisation recently. She and her team have been invited to the general assembly of the International Dance Council.
With the recognition, the academy and the team can take part in various programmes of UNESCO from now on. UNESCO also has promised to assist in organising dance events of international level within the country.
The general assembly of the council is scheduled to be held on 4 December in Paris, France. Morsheda, unable to afford the trip to France, has applied to the cultural ministry for funds recently.
Morsheda Begum is now working as an office assistant cum computer operator at the deputy commissioner’s office in Naogaon.
During her recent visit to Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy in Dhaka, Morsheda told Prothom Alo that she applied to cultural ministry through Shilpakala Academy for funds to visit France but yet to receive any response.
Citing that the International Dance Council would finance the team’s accommodation, food and inter-city transports, Morsheda said, “Most of our team members do not have passports. It’s not possible for them to afford the air fare to France.”
Morsheda, winner of President Award as the best child dance artiste in 1978, said she did not contact with the UNESCO organisation on her own. The council president Alkis Raftis contacted her through the Nritya Niketan’s Facebook page and asked if she was interested to take part in international dance events if invited.
“He asked for the details of my academy and then contacted over phone. We were formally informed that we have been made official member of the council on 30 August,” Morsheda told Prothom Alo.
Morsheda and her academy have been seen enlisted in the official website of the International Dance Council along with two other Bangladeshi artistes -- Pooja Sengupta of Turangami School of Dance in the capital and artiste Sharmishtha Sonalika Sarkar.
Morsheda Begum founded Nritya Niketan in 1997. It was a dance school in the beginning. She, later, set up a dance group selecting dancers among her students.
“Saju Ahmed, Deepa Khandaker, Belayet Hossain Khan and Shibli Mohammad are my national level gurus. But I never wished to make a Dhaka-based organisation,” she added with an air of confidence in her voice.
Morsheda with her Nritya Niketan team took part in several national level dance events. They have staged various high-end dance dramas including Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Chitrangada’ and ‘Shyama’. She also staged many other dramas on nature, social forestry and monsoon.
Nritya Niketan has also many other recognitions. For instance, the team has become champion for seven times at divisional level in regional dance segment of Children’s national seasonal dance competition.
It also won gold medal in National Children's Prize Competition and came first in folk dance in a competition organised by Bangladesh Nritya Shilpi Sangstha.