Mushtari was introduced to Bengali folk dance at a young age in Bangladesh as part of her school’s extracurricular activities. Unlike India where classical music and dance have a long-standing tradition, Bangladesh takes pride in her folk dance and music tradition.
Mushtari’s training in North Indian Classical Dance form ‘Kathak’ began when she immigrated to Canada in the early 2000. After studying with her first Guru Joanna De Souza for about two years she started advanced training in Lucknow gharana of Kathak under the tutelage of Ms. Saveeta Sharma at Upasana – The Spirit of Dance. She also trained in Jaipur gharana of Kathak for 3 years under the tutelage of Mr. Hemant Panwar at Panwar Music and Dance School.
Funding from Canada Council for the Arts and UK’s Milapfest Foundation helped her pursue training with the living legend of Kathak – Pandit Birju Maharaj – and the leading contemporary Kathak artist – Ms. Aditi Mangaldas – in Liverpool, UK in workshop setting. Her interest in the recent development of contemporary aesthetic in dance has also motivated her to study with some of the leading Canadian and International choreographers.
In 2016 Mushtari founded a dance collective called ‘Kathak Bandi’ that aims to celebrate human stories and experience through dance, rhythm, live music and the emotive quality of North Indian Classical Dance form ‘Kathak’. Since its inception, the collective has created original work inspired by visual art, poetry and contemporary events that speak to the ‘Now’.
‘Shifting Normal’ and ‘This is (NOT) a Manifesto’ are the collective’s two latest COVID-19 responsive dance-theatre films. They were premiered at digital exhibitions HEAR US NOW! by Ethnocultural Art History Research Group at Concordia University, Montreal and by Shooting Gallery Performance Series, Vancouver respectively. Since its premiere, Shifting Normal has been exhibited at various digital exhibitions across North America including CAPSULE by National Arts Centre Ottawa, Quarantine Qapsule by Myseum of Toronto, In Hindsight 2020 Was A.. by incuarts Sanfrancisco, Diasporic Rhizome by South Asian Institue Chicago.
Some of the collective’s recent creations also include ‘Silence Is..’, ‘Resist/Co-exist’ – a Kathak-Flamenco collaboration exploring intercultural conflicts and similarities , ‘Sunset in Fall’ – a work inspired by Canadian Fall, ‘Emerged’ – a work inspired by Canadian Spring, ‘Past & Present’ – a work investigating the inner conflicts of an Asian immigrant to the West, ‘The Broken Dream of a Stream’ – a work inspired by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore‘s poetry and ‘Bold Expressions’ – a work inspired by contemporary ideas on ‘what defines boldness’.
With Mushtari in the lead the collective has presented its work at Pia Bouman Theatre in Toronto, Centre Stage Theatre in Santa Barbara-California, Aga Khan Museum’s Pop-Up performance Series, The Canadian Foundation for Asian Heritage’s Concert at University of Toronto, In-Depth Conference at Munk Centre for the Global Affairs, Noor Cultural Centre, University of Toronto Festival of Dance, Emerging Young Artist Inc’s Contemporary Art Exhibition, Tagore Centre, Open Open Open Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and virtually at ModArts Dance – Harlem New York, South Asia Institute – Chicago, incuarts – USA, Myseum of Toronto – Toronto, EAHR – Concordia University Montreal, National Arts Centre – Ottawa and Shooting Gallery – Vancouver.
With two consecutive Research and Creation grants from Canada Council for the Arts, the collective is working currently on a new project entitled, ‘SOM‘ which it aims to premiere in 2022. Mushtari also received Art Responsive grant from Ontario Arts Council in 2021.
Mushtari’s educational background and artistic background have placed her at the intersection of science and the arts in one of the most technologically revolutionary periods of our time. She was the idea powerhouse behind the Asian Heritage Foundation‘s winning grants in Digital Literacy from Canada Council for the Arts. In 2019, she worked with the foundation and IBM Canada as a Project Manager and Research Analyst in collaboration with Dr. Kay Li (Vice-President of Asian Heritage Foundation) and Dr. Lien Chao (President of Asian Heritage Foundation) to investigate the state of digital literacy among the Canadian artists of Asian ancestry.
Mushtari is also a Professional Member of the Canadian Alliance for Dance Artists, Ontario Chapter (CADA-ON).