What is Kathak?
The expression ‘Kathak’ has its origin in the word ‘Katha’, which literally means a story. Story-tellers or the recounters are the people, who narrate various tales from fables, mythology and epics and have the base of their story-narration on legends from Hindu Puranas. It has its foundation in an oral narration. To make this narration more effective, there is a possibility that characters and Mudras (particular gestures of hands and / or face) might have been an addition of the later period. In this way, a narrative dance from came into existence, which also makes us aware about the development of the dance form of the current ‘Kathak’.
Vaishnavism that was dominant in the 15th century in the northern India has principally contributed in the new introduction of worship through rhythm and music. It became more popular with the themes of Radha-Krishna, Meerabai-Krishana by Soordas, Nanddas and Krishnadas. The derivation of Raas Leela in Brij Bhoomi (In Mathura in western Uttar Pradesh) was a key feature of this growth. It was an implementation of music and dance in itself. In Raas Leela, the dance was an expansion of the role of the character, which is a fine blend of current day traditional dance form.
History of Kathak
In the advent of Mughal era, this dance form has had an inspiration in royal courts. It made the travel of the dance from the temples to the royal palaces, which itself was a transformation that caused an unavoidable turn in its presentation. In both Hindu and Muslim royal courts, the dance form of ‘Kathak’ had received a great praise. It thus developed as a superior unification of entertainment. In Muslim royal courts, ‘Kathak’ had had a special importance, owing to its sentimental and powerful beauty.
In the 19th century, under the shelter of the last Nawab of Avadh Wajid Ali Shah, the dance form of ‘Kathak’ had enjoyed its climax popularity. It had established Lucknow Gharana through effective expressions and Swar. Jaipur Gharana is famous for its Laykari and Benaras Gharana is other famous school for the dance form of ‘Kathak’.
Which body parts use in Kathak
In ‘Kathak’, there is an exclusive style of dance. The balance of the dancer’s body is divided according to the horizontal and vertical lines of the dancing arena. It also emphasizes the complete touch of the dancer’s feet to the dancing arena, with the maximum use of heel and toe fingers. In this dance form, neither the lower nor the upper bending parts of the body are used in dancing.
Pure form of dance has a special place in ‘Kathak’, wherein the dancer skillfully controls the movement of musical bells wore on his / her ankles. In ‘Kathak’, Taal has various titles, e.g. Tukda, Toda and Paran. With the help of Taal on musical instruments, the dancer makes his / her moves. The dancer initiates dance with Thaat, where neck and wrists are moved steadily. While performing ‘Kathak’, the dancer displays Krishna’s tales through Thumri, Bhajan and Dadra.
Today, ‘Kathak’ has attained the place of a chief dance form. This is the only Indian dance form that had its relation with Muslim culture.
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