"Kathakars," were nomadic storytellers who used a combination of music,
dance, and acting to narrate religious tales from the Hindu epics,
MAHABHARATA and RAMAYANA. Kathak's primary role, during that period,
was to evoke devotion, "Bhakti" in the audience. Kathak
is among the six major classical dances of India, originating from the temples of North India. The word kathak is derived from
the Sanskrit word "katha," meaning Kathak today has two distinct styles, the The Muslim conquest of
India led to the Mughal Empires of the 15th through 19th centuries,
creating a distinctive Indian-Islamic civilization, manifested largely
through the arts. It was here that the Hindu Maharajas and the Muslim Mughal leaders hired Kathakas to
entertain them in their lavish courts, transforming kathak
from a form of devotion to more secular entertainment. Due to the
which forbade the representation of God in human forms, the dancers
needed to modify and disguise religious movements. The simple Hindu
storytelling style was also enhanced to reflect court entertainment
etiquettes, which included a high degree of formalization, style and a
vivid sensuous quality to the dance. Rhythmic footwork, fast
pirouettes, and subtle intricate movements became its signature.Lucknow and the Jaipur gharana. While the Jaipur gharana emphasizes the technical mastery of pure dance and swift turns, the Lucknow gharana emphasizes expressive content including refined gesture and abhinaya
(expression). Combining the devoutness of the Hindu temple with
luscious entertainment from the Mughal and Rajput courts, the tradition
of Kathak dance continues to evolve throughout the world in the
twenty-first century. Enriched by contemporary literature, music and
performance, Kathak responds to an increasingly global culture.
Footwork and "Bols"
is the basic footwork of kathak. While the origin of this footwork
still remains uncertain, it is considered to have been derived from the
natawari bols (syllables) ta,
thei, and tat. In
kathak, the idea of worship through dance involves the spiritual
relationship of the dancer in contact with the earth, in order to reach
God.Ta, body (from Tanu)
Thei, Earth (from Sthela)
Ei, Lord (from Eishwara)
The body that dances on the earth for the Lord
has developed into a very sophisticated system of footwork and rhythmic
is also a study into the power of energy. The soles of the feet
generate a flow of energy which streams through all the cells in the
muscles and bones of the body as the body moves in tune with the
energy. The energy flows up to the crown of the mind, dissolving
thought as it unites with the energy, and a harmony of body and mind is
realized. It is at this level that dance becomes a yogic practice.
In People Like Me 2007:Motion Commotion
, Parna Basu will present a masterful "pure dance," or "nritta," which demonstrates the diverse and dynamic energy qualities, rhythms, and complexities of this classical Indian form. Incorporating elements of choreography and improvisation, only the most accomplished dancers can tackle the complex rhythmic patterns in the music, and Parna exhibits skillful grace, poise, and strength in this whirlwind piece.
A contingent of
the Chitresh Das Dance Company performed a piece in
People Like Me 2004.
Along with spectacular kathak yoga, footwork, and spins, they included
an innovative interaction between kathak bols and beat boxing with Keith Terry's Crosspulse Trio.