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Kathak, one of the finest forms of Indian classical dance systems, takes its name from the ancient saying “Katha Kahe So Kathak”, that is, “one who tells a story is a kathak” or storyteller. Having evolved as a form of singing stories of divine deeds and in the holy precincts of temples, Kathak is one style that has evolved and changed in form, texture, content and format over the centuries. Kathak like so many other branches of our art and culture redefined and restructured itself due to the fusion of Indo-Moghul culture. It traveled from the temples to the streets, to the courts of powerful kings and reinvented itself every step of the way, to suit the socio-political cultural ethos of every particular era.

Today, Kathak stands in full pristine glory and many exponents belonging to different Gharanas (systems) like the Lucknow , Jaipur and Banaras have contributed to its strength, name and fame. Kathak is a dance famous for its intricate ‘laykaari’ or dance based on rhythm and accurate time measurement. Pirouettes called ‘chakkars’ form an essential part of its technique, giving it the nickname ‘the Cinderella of Indian dance’. As opposed to the common belief that Kathak is mainly only foot work and rhythmic technique, the fact is that over the times a number of literary compositions have also been used in the repertoire of Kathak, like khyals, dhrupad, dhamaar, hori, thumri, bhajan, keertan and even ghazal.

Today, Kathak is being used in depiction of modern and contemporary themes as well. The resilience, subtlety and grace in laid in the technique of the style make it suitable for every kind of theme, mood or emotion, which is why Kathak occupies a pride of position in the impressive array of Indian classical dance forms.




Invocation and Nrtta:

The dancer executes his entry on a series of rhythmic syllables woven together in a dramatic way called the ‘uthaan’ literally meaning ‘pick up’ or to commence. This entry is then followed by a ‘shlok’ or a small verse in praise of the elephant-headed God Ganapati, who is eulogized as the remover of all obstacles. The dancer then presents pure dance pattern of several varieties like ‘aamad’, ‘tukdas’, ‘parans’, ‘chakradhaars’ and so on, which are typical to the kinetics of the system of Kathak. These rhythmic structures form a very important and intrinsic part of the Kathak technique.


The next item commences with a verse in praise of the blue-bodied God Lord Krishna. He describes his beauty with the gleaning ‘tilak’ of musk on his forehead, shining gems and silken garments adorning his supple body and his enchanting flute causing hurts of love-lorn Gopikas to swarm around him. Hori, which is a typical kind of musical composition, depicts Radha and Krishna indulging in the colorful rite of the holi festival, their fun and frolic, the dancer who assumes both charaters alternately highlights filled antics. Filled with mischief and romantic undertones the hori is rich in movement, grace and expression.


Taraana is a musical composition typical to the Hindustani style of music, in which syllables are used as a song in the place of meaningful lyric. The item is purely ‘nritta’ or pure dance-based. The entire gamut of movement contained within the framework of Kathak is presented in the ‘Taraana’. Replete with rhythmic intricacies, split second precision and graceful body Aesthetics, Taraana encapsulates the technique of Kathak in all its glory.