Kathak Dance | Kathak Dance wiki | Kathak Dance history


Kathak Dance | Kathak Dance wiki | Kathak Dance history

Kathak Dance

There are several classical dance forms in Asian nation and Kathak is one amongst them. Origin of Kathak has thought from the traveling bards of ancient northern Asian nation referred to as Kathakars or storytellers. Kathak came from a Sanskritic language word Katha which implies “story” and Kathaka which implies “he WHO tells a story” or to try to with stories”. Like Greek theatre, Kathakas communicated stories from the good epics and ancient mythology through dance, songs, and music. Kathak evolved throughout the devotion movement, notably by incorporating the childhood and stories of the Hindu god avatar, in addition as severally within the courts of north Indian kingdoms.

Kathak has 3 forms, they are Jaipur, Banaras, and Lucknow. In Kathak dance foot movements, little bells (Ghungroo), and also the movement harmonical to the music area unit important. The legs and toes area unit typically straight, and also the story is told through a developed vocabulary supported the gestures of arms and higher body movement, facial expressions, stage movements, bends, and turns. the most focus of the dance becomes the eyes and also the foot movements. The eyes work as a medium of communication of the story the dancer is making an attempt to speak. With the eyebrows, the dancer provides numerous facial expressions. The distinction between the sub-traditions is that the relative stress of acting versus footwork, with Lucknow vogue accenting acting and Jaipur vogue far-famed for its spectacular footwork.

Katha is an oral tradition learned from generation to generation. It transitioned, custom-made and integrated the tastes of the Mughal courts within the sixteenth and seventeenth century notably Akbar, was ridiculed and declined within the colonial British era,[10] then was converted as the Asian nation gained independence and sought-after to discover its ancient roots and a way of national identity through the humanities.

Etymology and language

The term Kathak is unmoving within the religious text term Katha (Sanskrit: ŗ§ēŗ§•ŗ§ĺ) which implies “story, speech communication, the ancient tale”. Kathak refers to at least one of the most important classical dance type primarily found in the northern Asian nation, with a historical influence the same as Bharatanatyam in the south Asian nation, Odissi in the Malay Archipelago and different major classical dances found in South Asia. It differs from the many folks’ dance forms found in north and different components of the Indian landmass.

The Kathak dancers, within the ancient Asian nation, were traveling bards and were referred to as Kathakas, or Kathakar.

The simple variation of Kathak which has impressed religion, like the Bhavai that emerged within the medieval era, is presently found in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Another variant that emerged from ancient Kathak is Thumri.


According to Madonna Snodgrass, the Kathak tradition of Asian country is traceable to four hundred BCE. The earliest living text with Kathak roots is that the Natya Shastra, attributed to sage Bharata, and its 1st complete compilation is dated to between two hundred BCE and two hundred metallic elements, but estimates vary between five hundred BCE and five hundred metallic elements.
Kathak performance by Sharmila Sharma and Rajendra Kumar Gangani at the Guimet deposit (November 2007)
The most studied version of the Natya Shastra text consists of regarding 6000 verses structured into thirty-six chapters. Natalia Lidova Which describes the speculation of TńĀŠĻኳćava, rasa, of bhńĀva, expression, gestures, acting techniques, basic steps, standing postures ‚Äď all of that area unit a part of Indian classical dances as well as Kathak. Dance and performance arts states this ancient Hindu text, area unit a kind of expression of nonsecular concepts, virtues and also the essence of scriptures.

The 2d century B.C. panels found in Bharhut show the dancers in a very vertical stance with their arms’ positions already suggesting today’s Kathak movements. Most of the dancers have one arm close to the ear in a very ”pataka hasta” (Mudra). In later years, the hasta was lowered to the bust level.

Bhakti movement era

Textual studies recommend that “Kathak” as a classical dance kind possible started in Benares (Varanasi) and from there migrated northwest to Lucknow, Jaipur and alternative components of the north and northwest Asian country. The Lucknow tradition of Kathak dance attributes the fashion to a devotion movement lover named Ishwari from the Handiya village in southeast Uttar Pradesh, UN agency attributable Hindu god Krishna showing in his dream and asking him to develop “dance as a kind of worship”.Ishwari instructed his descendants, UN agency successively preserved the educational ANd developments through an oral tradition over six generations ultimately yielding the Lucknow version of the Kathak dance ‚Äď a tribe that’s acknowledged in each Hindu and Muslim music-related Indian literature.

Most of the Kathak dance themes depend¬†upon Krishna, and his lover Radha and milkmaids (gopis) ‚Äď around legends and texts like the Bhagavata Purana found within the Vaishnavism tradition of Hinduism. The love between Radha and Krishna became symbolism for the love between Atman (soul within) and also the supreme supply (Cosmic soul everywhere), a topic that dance ballet and mimetic plays of Kathak artists expressed.

Mughal era

Shinjini Kulkarni acting Kathak.
The Mughal era courts and nobles accepted Kathak as a kind of patrician recreation, that low financial gain families were willing to supply. However, the dance became additional abstract and titillating, less as a method of communication of non-secular or spiritual concepts, and in cases, the dancers innovated by accentuation the eroticism and physiological property the Muslim audience wished whereas keeping the message like those of Krishna-Radha embedded within the dance. According to Drid Williams:

It ought to be remembered that the primary Kathak dancers were, after all, Hindus UN agency danced for Moghul overlords. an excessive amount of outward expression of non-secular belief was no doubt undesirable. it’s so cheap to assume that the wide use of ‘abstract’ saltation, complex bell work (tatkar), dazzling turns and also the fugitive, transient, glimpses of Radha and Krishna in Kathak arose each to inform the dancers regarding their reasons for saltation and (gently, unobtrusively) to deceive their stately Moghul audiences. maybe tatkar and tukras shaped the majority of those 1st dancers’ performances. bit by bit additional and additional pictures, then stories of Krishna and Radha crept in.

Drid Williams, social science and also the Dance

. once the colonial European officers began incoming in Asian country, the Kathak court recreation they witnessed was a synthesis of the traditional Indian tradition and Central Asian-Persian dance kind, and also the Kathak dance performers were known as the “nautch girls” (or natch, a spinoff of the tougher to pronounce Sanskritic language Natya).

British dominion era

With the unfolding of colonial British rule the nineteenth-century Asian country, Kathak in conjunction with all alternative classical dance forms was discouraged and it severely declined. This was partly the results of the Victorian morality of sexual repressiveness in conjunction with Anglican missionaries UN agency criticized Hinduism. Reverend James Long, as an example, projected that Kathak dancers ought to forget ancient Indian tales and Hindu legends and substitute them with European legends and Christian tales. Missionaries recorded their frustration in Church Missionary Review after they saw Hindu audiences applaud and shout “Ram, Ram” throughout Kathak performances.

Missionaries and colonial officers , Indian men WHO had been educated in colonial Britain and had custom-made to Victorian primness stated criticism, states Margaret Walker, presumably as a result of they’d lost their cultural association, now not understood the underlying religious themes behind the dance, and assumed this was one in all the “social ills, immoral and backward elements” in their heritage that they need to end. However, the Hindu families continuing their non-public tutoring associated unbroken the Kathak art alive as an oral tradition. Kathak lecturers conjointly shifted to coaching boys to preserve the tradition, as most of the 20th-century ridicule had been directed at Kathak “nautch girls”.

Kathak was dropped at the eye of audiences outside the Asian nation in the early twentieth century through Kalkaprasad Maharaj.

Postcolonial era

The movement to finish the colonial era associated for a freelance Asian nation-states Walker conjointly witnessed a revival of Kathak and a lot of broadly speaking, a cultural ferment and energy to reclaim culture and discover history. The Kathak revival movements co-developed in Muslim and Hindu gharanas, notably by the Kathak-Misra community. of those the Jaipur and Lucknow sub-traditions of Kathak have attracted a lot of scholarship.
State of ‘sam’ performed by Manisha Gulyani
BBC Arts article, published that Kathak is exclusive in being practiced by the Muslim community of the Asian nation, and so encompasses a “historical link to Islam that just about formally forbids dance and music”. Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, a Muslim and a devotee of Pandit Chitresh Das within the Lucknow faculty, consider Kathak as a “confluence of Hindu and Muslim cultures”, and has conferred her performance in Pakistan. In distinction, states BBC, “Nahid Siddiqui, settled and nurtured within the UK, encompasses an arduous time practicing and presenting her [Kathak] art in her birth-country of Pakistan”.

While most students think about Kathak as associate ancient art, some like Margaret Walker recommend the trendy Kathak may be a 20th-century development, a lot of a type of cultural revival, if one depends on the music-related Indian documents.


A modern Kathak, altogether 3 major sub-traditions known as Lucknow, Benares and Jaipur designs (gharana), states Bruno Nettl, carries with it 3 main sections – the invocation, one pure (abstract) dance recital and one communicatory dance.

The invocation (Vandana) consists of the dancer coming back to the stage and giving reference to his or her guru and also the musicians on the stage. If the team is from the Hindu tradition, the dancer(s) mix facial expressions and hand gestures (mudra) to invoke Hindu gods and goddesses; whereas a Muslim performance replaces the pious expressions with a sausage (salutation).

The pure dance is named a nritta, whereas the communicatory dance is named a nritya. A Kathak performance will be solo, pair or team. in a very technical performance, the speed and energy the dancers exchange with the audience will increase in multiples, that’s the tempo doubles or quadruples. throughout the performance, one or a lot of the Kathak artists might return to the mike, act with the audience, justify one thing, tell associate report in a very specific language, or rhythmically recite a song.

The costumes of the dancer and also the facial cosmetics of a Hindu or Muslim Kathak dance organization varies. The stage usually is blank with no distracting background, states Williams, with musicians sitting on rugs downstage right (audience’s left), and if it’s a Hindu performance there’s a picture of dance Shiva (Nataraja) or a Ganesa on the stage’s left with flowers and perfumed incense burning.

Pure dance (Nritta)

The nritta performance starts off with a th√†th sequence, that may be a slower sleek movement of wrists, neck, and eyebrows. Thereafter, the dancer step by step will increase speed and energy, whereas finishing a sequence of bol (mnemonic syllables in Indian tradition). every bol has short sections, like technical exercises in western dance traditions, whereby the dancer engages the audience with tora, tukra, parhant, paran et al. stressing footwork, gestures, and turns. every section once completed encompasses a punctuation, sometimes a pointy flip of the top. every articulatio plana are adorned with tiny bells (ghungroo), which can have only 1 bell or lots of. The dancer’s fast movements and footwork in a very nritta are absolutely regular to the musical beats (tala) and tempos, and also the footwork sequences ar was known as tatkars.

Most of the Nritta performance is an abstract, quick and chantlike facet of Kathak.[15] in a very Kathak nritta, like all classical Indian dance forms, the viewer is conferred with pure movement, whereby the stress is that the beauty in motion, form, speed, vary and pattern. It aims to interact the senses (prakriti) of the audience.

Expressive dance (Nritya)

The communicatory (nritya) stage of the Kathak dance, wearing Hindu costumes.
Nritya is slower and communicatory facet of Kathak that tries to speak feelings, plot notably with religious themes in Hindu dance traditions. in a very nritya, the dance expands to incorporate words, musical notes and gestures to articulate a legend or message, it’s over sensory enjoyment, it aims to interact the emotions and mind of the viewer.

The quality of Kathak is additionally found in alternative classical dances of the Asian nation. Its roots are found within the Natyashastra text that defines drama in verse half-dozen.10 as that that esthetically arouses joy within the spectator, through the medium of actor’s art of communication, that helps connect and transport the individual into a brilliant sensual inner state of being. The Natya connects through abhinaya (literally, “carrying to the spectators”), that’s applying body-speech-mind and scene, whereby asserts Natyashastra, the actors communicate to the audience, through song and music. Drama in this ancient Indo-Aryan text so is associate art to interact each facet of life, so as to glorify and gift a state of joyful consciousness. in keeping with Massey, another necessary ancient text that has influenced Kathak is that the Abhinaya Darpanam of Nandikeshvara (~2nd century CE).

In Kathak, abhinaya¬†is that the¬†sort of¬†Flemish-speaking¬†gestures and pantomime set to music that¬†generally¬†outlines¬†a legend or the plot of¬†a regular¬†story. The gestures and facial expressions convey the ras (sentiment, emotional taste) and bhava (mood) of the underlying story. within the Hindu texts on dance, the guru and also the artists with success categorical the religious concepts by listening to four aspects of a performance: Angik (gestures and body language), Vachik (song, recitation, music and rhythm), Aharya (costume, makeup, jewelry), and Satvik (artist’s mental disposition and emotional reference to the story and audience, whereby the artist’s inner and outer state resonates).A Kathak nritya performance, but grants flexibility to the artists and invitations improvisation, and it’s going to not be accompanied by a song or recital regarding the legend. The stories in Kathak performance tend to be regarding the Hindu god avatar (or in some cases Shiva or Devi), and also the stories return from sources like the Bhagavata Purana, or the Indian Epics. this type of quality is additionally found in thumri and Persian ghazals.


The costumes vary among Kathak performers, and are either Hindu or Muslim.

The Hindu costume for feminine dancers has 2 variations. One is predicated on a dress, however, is worn in a very vogue completely different from the customary vogue that goes over the left shoulder. A Kathak creative person typically wraps the dress around the waist and it hangs down from the left. A shirt known as choli covers the higher body. The creative person might wear a shawl (called orhni in some places). Hair, face, ear, neck, hand, radiocarpal joint and articulatio plana jewelry, usually of gold, might adorn the creative person. A tika or bindi within the middle of the forehead is common. But in other second variation, Kathak dancer uses an extended, full (just higher than the ankle), light-weight skirt sometimes with an adorned border that helps highlight the dance moves. The skirt is contrasted with a unique color choli, and a clear scarf usually drapes over it and also the dancer’s head. jewelry usually gifts within the second variation.

The Muslim costume for feminine dancers conjointly uses a skirt, however, includes shut fitting churidar pajamas and generally an extended coat covering hands and also the higher body. the top encompasses a cowl scarf and also the jewelry is lightweight.

The Hindu costume for male Kathak performers is usually a silk breechclout draped around the waist, then sometimes lined with a silk scarf tied on prime. The higher body is also blank, show the Hindu thread, or be lined with a loose jacket. Kathak male artists conjointly wear jewelry, however typically of stones and far less complicated than the feminine artists.
Musical instruments like tabla et al. (left) accompany a Kathak performance.


The ensemble of musical instruments varies with any Kathak performing artist, starting from 2 to 12 classical Indian instruments or a lot of inversions with artificial innovations. the foremost common instruments that escort Kathak ar tabla (a combine of hand drums) that syncs with the dancer’s feet rhythms, sarangi or free-reed instrument with Mandira (hand cymbals) that meters the tal (cycle), and alternative instruments to feature impact, depth and structure to the communicatory stage of a Kathak performance.


Kathak may be a diffuse tradition, of that 3 gharanas (schools) are a lot of standards and studied ‚Äď Jaipur, Benares, and Lucknow. The schools place completely different relative stress between aspects of a Kathak performance like the acting versus footwork. The Lucknow vogue, for instance, emphasizes acting whereas Jaipur vogue emphasizes the dance and footwork. historically, the Jaipur Gharana has had a powerful religious flavor, covering a various vary of concepts in Vaishnavism and Shaivism.
Performing Kathak, Lucknow Gharana vogue
The Jaipur Gharana traces its origins to Bhanuji, a noted Shiva Tandava dancer WHO upon visiting Vrindavan was impressed and tutored Natvari Nritya. Bhanuji’s grandsons Laluji and Kanhuji were equally impressed by the avatar. They came back to Jaipur, and along they began the Jaipur Gharana of Kathak. The Jaipur vogue developed below the support of Hindoo rulers, and that they favored the Kathak dance with Hindu spiritual themes. In the era, this faculty has continued their stress on dance and footwork with Jai Lal, Janki Prasad, Kundan Lal, Mohan Lal and Nawal Kishore. This faculty is best legendary for its systematic innovations in chantlike dance, and also the use of dance movement to precise a story.

The Lucknow Gharana of Kathak dance attributes its origins to a rural avatar fan named Ishwari from the village in the southeast province, WHO aimed to develop Kathak dance as a type of caressive devotion to the avatar. This faculty thrived once the Mughal Empire folded, once Kathak artists captive from city to Lucknow below the support of Avadh nawabs WHO favored court dance culture. within the era, the Lucknow Gharana vogue influences the school in Indian capital with Shambu Maharaj, Birju Maharaj, and Lacchu Maharaj. In Kathak choreography, there were themes on the far side Krishna-Radha, like those supported by the drama works of Kalidasa’s Shiva-Parvati and Bhavabhuti’s Malati-Madhav. This faculty has conjointly tried a Hindu-Muslim Kathak fusion vogue, lightness the court dancers theme.

The Benares Gharana is that the third major vogue historically believed to be the oldest. Its history is unclear. in keeping with Kothari, the varsity started with Janakiprasad from a village close to Bikaner WHO relocated to Varanasi, however, one whose ancestors were noted dancers and musicians. Janakiprasad was a dancer and an Indo-Aryan scholar, and attributable with inventing the bols of Kathak, that ar method syllables inside the language of this classical dance of Asian nation.

According to Nicole Lehmann, fashionable Kathak dancers show, to varying degrees, a fusion of the designs from all 3 gharanas.

Relationship with alternative art forms
The north Indian Kathak dance differs from the south Indian Bharatanatyam in many ways in which, although each has roots within the Hindu text Natya Shastra. Kathak expressions ‚Äď notably in Hindu pious designs ‚Äď are a lot of introspective and withdrawn, whereas Bharatanatyam is a lot of extroverted and expansive. Kathak is often performed in a very standing kind with legs and body usually straight, whereas Bharatanatyam extensively utilizes bent knee kind (ara mandi, [*fr1] sitting position that’s somewhat like Demi Pli√© ballet move).

Kathak is¬†in addition¬†fully¬†totally different¬†from Kathakali,¬†although¬†every¬†ar Indian classical dance traditions of “story play” whereby the stories¬†square measure¬†traditionally¬†derived from the Hindu epics and¬†additionally¬†the Puranas. Kathakali emerged within the southwestern region of Asian nation (modern Kerala) and is distinctive in its elaborate statute colorful makeup, masks and costumes. Kathakali historically has been troupes of preponderantly male actor-dancers, WHO dress up as a hero, heroines, gods, goddesses, demons, demonesses, priests, animals and everyday life characters. Both dance forms use elaborate footwork, choreography and hand gestures, however, Kathakali integrates south Indian martial arts movements like leaps and jumps. each dance forms trace their roots to classical Indo-Aryan texts, however, Kathakali has comparatively newer origins, a lot of closely follows the Hastha Lakshanadeepika text and commenced flourishing within the sixteenth century. whereas every encompasses a completely different musical and dance language, each deploys a bunch of comparable ancient Indian musical instruments.

According to Miriam Phillips, the Indian Kathak and also the Spanish Flamenco dance share several visual, chant-like and proprioception similarities.

(Shahinul Islam Uzzal)