From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Kathak
Mains level : NA
Kathak legend Pandit Birju Maharaj has recently passed away.
- Kathak is one of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance.
- The origin of Kathak is traditionally attributed to the traveling bards in of ancient northern India known as Kathakars or storytellers.
- The term Kathak is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit word Katha which means “story”, and Kathakar which means “the one who tells a story”, or “to do with stories”.
- Wandering Kathakars communicated stories from the great epics and ancient mythology through dance, songs and music.
- Kathak dancers tell various stories through their hand movements and extensive footwork, their body movements and flexibility but most importantly through their facial expressions.
- It evolved during the Bhakti movement, particularly by incorporating the childhood and stories of the Hindu god Krishna, as well as independently in the courts of north Indian kingdoms.
- Kathak is unique in having both Hindu and Muslim gharanas and cultural elements of these gharanas.
- Kathak performances include Urdu Ghazals and commonly used instruments brought during the Mughal period.
- Kathak is found in three distinct forms, called “gharanas”, named after the cities where the Kathak dance tradition evolved – Jaipur, Banaras and Lucknow.
- While the Jaipur gharana focuses more on the foot movements, the Banaras and Lucknow gharanas focus more on facial expressions and graceful hand movements.
- It involves both Nritta (pure dance) and Nritya (expressive dance).
- Stylistically, the Kathak dance form emphasizes rhythmic foot movements, adorned with small bells (Ghungroo) and the movement harmonized to the music.
- The legs and torso are generally straight, and the story is told through a developed vocabulary based on the gestures of arms and upper body movement, facial expressions, neck movements, eyes and eyebrow movement, stage movements, bends and turns.
- The main focus of the dance becomes the eyes and the foot movements.
- The eyes work as a medium of communication of the story the dancer is trying to communicate. With the eyebrows the dancer gives various facial expressions.
- A Kathak performance can be solo, duo or team. In a technical performance, the speed and energy the dancers exchange with the audience increases in multiples, that is the tempo doubles or quadruples.