What Is the Pakistani Mujra Dance?

The Pakistani Mujra dance originated during the Mughal era as a form of dance for the tawaif, or courtesans of the period. The dance is a blend of artistic dance and eroticism. In more modern times, mujra dancers are commonly hired to dance at official occasions such as weddings and bachelor parties.

Mujra dance is prevalent throughout Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. While some stigma has been attached to performers of this dance, who have been compared to prostitutes, it has gained popular acceptance as it is adapted to modern music and entertainment. The more modern variants of mujra focus on a fluidity of movement and the female form.

It is often noted that mujra's original roots were steeped in tradition and only later became incorrectly synonymous with prostitution. The history of mujra is often compared with the checkered past of belly dancing.

As of 2015, mujra dance has been experiencing a revival, largely due to Bollywood's embrace of the dance. Mujra itself is partially based on an ancient Indian dance style called Kathak, which means "story-teller" in Sanskrit. Bollywood producers find that this mixture of dance and storytelling suits their narratives well, so many have sought to reintroduce and reinvent this ancient form of dance.