Wednesday November 14 2018


About Kathak

Kathak is a North Indian classical dance which has a long past nurtured in the holy precincts of the Hindu temples.  Kathak has over the years attained refinement and enriched itself with various hues and embellishments. Kathak originates from the word "katha," which means stories. This was evidenced in the ancient Sanskrit text, "Sidhhanta Kaumudi," by Panini.

There is a popular saying "Katha kaahe so kathak." One who tells a story is a "kathakar," or storyteller. The concept of a kathakar impersonating various characters in a story has been referred to by Bharata in Natya Shastra (one of the oldest treaties of Indian classical dance).   These story tellers traveled to different parts of the country telling and enacting the mythological Indian tales through mime, hand gestures and facial expressions.

Kathak as an art form was handed down from one generation to the next in a hereditary manner as an oral tradition. Developed over the years, and given by father to son, the skills, techniques, and knowledge of the art of Kathak resulted into two main schools (or gharanas): Lucknow and Jaipur. Held within a well-defined system of artistic values, the schools display salient features that distinguish them. However, with the passage of time, the demarcations are fast-disappearing with free exchange between the gharanas. The third well-known Kathak gharana is known as Benaras gharana.  
  From the 16th century onwards, Kathak was patronized in the courts of the Mughal emperors.  Hence this dance form contains a blend of both Hindu spiritualism and aspects of Persian dances.   Kathak is also unique in this respect and differs from all other classical Indian dance forms.  Kathak combines fast footwork, intricate and graceful hand movements with repetitive pirouettes.  These nuances also sets it apart from other Indian dance forms.  Kathak is often referred as the Flamenco of the East due to the intricate footwork that is common to both of these dance forms.

Similar to all other Indian Classical dance forms, Kathak has an expressional component (Nritya), a pure dance component (Nritta) and a dramatics component (Abhinaya).  The pure dance component includes execution of thoras, tukras, and parans, which include mnemonic syllables and clear footwork while the Nritya component involves the execution of the graceful gatnikas.