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Famous India > Dances >Kathak
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The Dance

A 3rd century BC Sanskrit shloka (Mithila, late Mauryan period) mentions Kathak like this :
..anahat...nrityadharmam kathakacha devalokam... Translation: ...sound...and the Kathaks whose duty is dance for the divine peoples

Kathak is one of the major Classical Forms of dance of North India. The word " Kathak " means to tell a story. The Story of Kathak goes like this - in the olden days when the patronage shifted from the temple to the royal court, there came a change in the overall emphasis in telling stories. It shifted from religious stories to that of entertainment. Today, the story telling part remains with with it in the back and the dance holding the primary role.

Primarily, Kathak was associated with an institution called Tawaif. It is something like Ghesia tradition of Japan.Tawaif was a profeesion which demanded highest standards of training, intelligence and civility - to be able to learn Kathak. But then the Britishers came to rule India, giving Tawaif a bad name. This was the beginning of Tawaif into a downtrail spiral.

Facets Of Kathak :
Kathak Dancer Feet Mudra
Feet Mudra Of Kathak
In Kathak more importance is given to the Feet Mudra than the Hand Form. The dances are performed straight-legged and the ankle bells (ghungaroos) worn by the dancers are adeptly controlled.

Kathak Dancer With Costume
Costume of Kathak Dancers
The costume and theme of these dances are similar to those in the Mughal Miniature Paintings. In the sixteenth century , the tight chudidar became the trademark of Kathak Dancers.

Kathak Dancer
The Dance Form of Kathak

There are three - Gharanas - the school of kathak.These schools are named as per the geographical areas in which they are developed. These are Jaipur, Lucknow and Benaras Gharanas.

All compositions in Kathak are performed so that the final step and the beat of the composition lands on the " Sam " or the first beat of the cycle. Most compositions also have " bols "which serve both as mnemonics to thecomposition and whose recitation also acts as a part of the performance. In addition to these "Tukras" are also formed to highlight the specific aspects of kathak. The "bols" can be borrowed from tabla (e.g. dha, ge, na, tirakiTa) or can be a dance variety (ta, thei, tat, ta ta, tigda, digdig and so on).

Musical Instruments used in Kathak
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