who tells a story is a Kathakar. Thus evolved the dance form
called Kathak. Kathak is one of the seven major classical
dance forms in India. It is prevalent in Northern India and
has a long past. Its earliest influences were from
2000-year-old folk and tribal dances of the countryside.
Nurtured in the holy precincts of Hindu temples, Kathak
dance has, over centuries, attained refinement and enriched
itself with various hues and embellishments. At first the
kathakars recounted stories orally, later on, in order to
make their interpretations more effective, they added mime
and gesture to their religious recitation from the great
Hindu epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Hence a Bhakti or
devotional mood was created. Indias rich heritage has
been the attraction of several major political empires and
religions through out the world for centuries. Kathaks
journey from the Hindu temples to the courts of the Moghul
emperors is quite fascinating. The various elements it has
imbibed over different periods in history have given Kathak
an exquisite character.
The Persian influence, the patronage of the Muslim nawabs
and the Rajput maharajas, and the flowering of the two main
schools (gharanas), Jaipur and Lucknow, portray Kathak as it
has developed in more recent times. The dance has two principal forms of expression: nritta and abhinaya. It was in the Mughal courts that the “pure dance or the technical” repertoire, or nritta bloomed. Intricate footwork, swift pirouettes, and elaborate yet subtle graceful, gestures and body movements flourished making Kathak one of the most vibrant performing arts in the world.
Nritta constitutes improvisational pure
dance items like laris, tehais, todas, tukras, amaad and
parans. These are pieces of rhythmic compositions set to a
rhythmic pattern with graceful body movements with
fascinating displays of footwork and swift pirouettes.
Abhinaya is the aspect of Kathak where the dancer tells a
story through mime and subtle facial expressions, performed
to songs thumris, ghazals, and bhajans, and to pure dance
items like gat and gat-nikas.