Indian Classical Dances "Kathak Dance"

topic posted Sun, May 1, 2005 - 7:27 AM by  India Bazaar
Indian Classical Dances

The Kathak dance form originated in the north India and at first was very similar to the Bharatanatyam. Persian and Muslim influences later altered the dance from a temple ritual to a courtly entertainment. The influence of the Mughal tradition is evident in this dance form, and it has a distinct Hindu-Muslim texture.

The word Kathak, derived from 'Katha', literally means storyteller. In ancient times, storytellers used song and dance to embellish their narration. This took the form of Kathakalakshepam and Harikatha in southern India, and the form of Kathak in the north. Around the 15th century, the dance form underwent a drastic transition due to the influence of Mughal dance and music. By the sixteenth century, the tight churidar pajama became the staple attire of a Kathak dancer.

The dances are performed straight-legged and the ankle bells worn by the dancers adeptly controlled. Kathak has an exciting and entertaining quality with intricate footwork and rapid pirouettes being the dominant and most endearing features of this style. The costumes and themes of these dances are often similar to those in Mughal miniature paintings.

Though not similar to the Natyasastra, the principles in Kathak are essentially the same. Here, the accent is more on footwork as against the emphasis on hasta mudras or hand formations in Bharatanatyam.

Churidar Pajama is forever running fashion in India. Mostly Indian womens perfer to wear Churidar Salwar kameez.wich can shop online from
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India Bazaar
  • Re: Indian Classical Dances "Kathak Dance"

    Sun, May 1, 2005 - 11:49 PM
    > [In Kathak] the accent is more on
    > footwork as against the emphasis
    > on hasta mudras or hand formations
    > in Bharatanatyam.

    Perhaps it is due to my limited exposure, but of the Indian classical dances that I have seen performed, Kathak comes closest to the techniques and illusions used by European mimes with regards to the hands and upper body.
    • Re: Indian Classical Dances "Kathak Dance"

      Mon, May 2, 2005 - 1:15 PM
      Expressing lyrics with hands, face, body etc. is done in all of the classical Indian dance forms - and even in modern film dancing.

      There is also a lot of foot- and legwork in Bharata Natyam - wanna feel my leg muscles? :-)
      But in Kathak it's mostly done standing straight, while in BN the legs are mostly bent and there are only few spins.
      • Re: Indian Classical Dances "Kathak Dance"

        Tue, May 3, 2005 - 9:38 PM
        All the classical dance forms of India are wonderfully expressive avenues for storytelling and character play.

        What I meant about the similarity between Kathak and classical French mime is the extent to which the Kathak dancers create illusions of objects and even illusions of weight and forces. I haven't seen these techniques used to a similar extent in Bharata Natyam performances that I have attended.

        However, this could just based on the handfull of performers I have seen.
        • Re: Indian Classical Dances "Kathak Dance"

          Sat, May 7, 2005 - 7:39 PM
          I have just returned from india where i have been studying tabla for kathak dance. the rythmical footwork of kathak and tabla bols are very similer. There is something very beautiful about the connection between the musician and dancer that is most prominent in kathak.
          is there any kathak dancers out there????
          let me know
          • Ln
            offline 93

            Re: Indian Classical Dances "Kathak Dance"

            Tue, May 10, 2005 - 7:21 AM
            I just did an intensive , 6 hrs. of Bharatanatyam, an intro. course. I have new and achey muscles to prove it. It was very interesting and I loved watching to teacher's performance after the workshop.
            I was wondering about the similarities between Bharatanatyam and Katak. A few months ago I had a practically mystical experience in a katak class, I felt like I was remembering something, not learning something new. And the teacher was impressed too. Unfortunately, I don't have time to study with her at the moment, it's 45 minutes on the train and I have a strange work scheduele. But I feel so drawn to Katak.
            Also, whenever I'm around someone playing tablas, my feet just start moving on their own. I don't know where you live Stirfry, but I with you were in my town, Sitges (Spain)
            • Unsu...

              Re: Indian Classical Dances "Kathak Dance"

              Mon, June 27, 2005 - 2:57 PM
              Howdi glad to see so many people like Kathak. I am currently studying with Pandit Birju Maharaj in Delhi India(took a 1 month leave of absence from work). I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE it. I studided bharat natyam for 12 years and liked that as well. I am also a flamenco student the similarities between kathak and flamenco is astounding. I love Kathak, it is a very involved art form. We know how to speak it, clap it, and say it. beautiful!
              • Re: Indian Classical Dances "Kathak Dance"

                Tue, July 5, 2005 - 12:40 PM
                You are very fortunate to be studying with Pandit Birju Maharaj. The two main gharanas of kathak are Lucknow and Jaipur. Lucknow being the gharana of Maharaj, and my favorite. I saw him years ago in Berkeley.
                Lots of good points being brought up here.
                What I love in addition is the fact that there is improvisation with Kathak. The tabla player and dancer share the same language and can improvise bols making a unique experience just as in jazz improv.
                The other point is kathak is the root of Flamenco and it is exciting to see these two dance forms share the stage and do salwal jawab which is also done with tabla and sitar or sarod,i.e, a rhythm or footwork is introduced and the other person answers.
                Yes I love kathak, and I'm married to a tabla player!(the conversation kept on going and hasn't stopped)

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