Classical dance, behind all its apparent complexities, is concerned with simple and enduring themes, speaking directly to the heart.

With the sweep of an arm, the glance of an eye or even a simple stance, the Kathak dancer reveals skies heavy with rains, verdant landscapes, roaming young lovers or a deity blessing a scene with his smiling presence. Accompanied by the soft wind of melodious voices and the steady pattern of drums, the dancer’s hands flicker with gentle sensuousness. A shy young girl in love, the gliding motion of a swan, a naughty child, all bathed in erotic innocence, these are the precious images of Kathak infinite in variety but each glowing softly in the same light. For centuries creators have with quiet humility, ‘innovated’ constantly revitalizing tradition’s streams. One can wonder at how tradition came into being, but what is more marvellous is its continual freshness, its essence intensified when inhaled with a clear and open mind.

Justin McCarthy
Director, Performing Arts, Ashoka University

About Kathak

Of the many classical dance styles that are part of India’s artistic heritage, Kathak is the dance tradition from North Central India, a region that incorporates Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Kathak is an incredibly beautiful synthesis of both the Hindu and Muslim artistic traditions and in that respect is unique among the other classical dances of India. Among the many features that set it apart are its upright stance, swift pirouettes and intricate footwork. Its approach towards the use of hand gestures and facial expressions is relatively natural. Conceived as a chamber art form for a solo dancer, the dance form lends itself equally to group choreography. The genre of music used in Kathak belongs to the Hindustani classical tradition and songs are mostly rendered in Hindi, Braj and sometimes in Urdu and Sanskrit.

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