Kathak- In brief
Kathak or gharanas is a very popular dance form. It originated in Northern India with the ancient storytellers or kathakars. The storytellers used to communicate mythological stories of God, Goddess, kings, and kingdom. This art form basically evolved during Bhakti movement. The Bhakti movement refers to the theistic devotional pattern originating in medieval Hinduism, and later serving as the fully independent cause for Sikhism growth. It emerged from southern India in the 8th century and extended Northward.
Unity of Culture
The most interesting fact about this art form is the synthesis of both Hindu and Muslim culture in its style. In the beginning days, the Radha-Krishna theme tuned popular alongside Mirabai, Surdas, Nandadas, and Krishnadas’ works. Moreover, the dance in Raslila(Dance of divine love) was primarily an extension of the basic choreograph and gestures of Kathakars(storytellers), which easily merged with the existing traditional dance.
With the emergence of the Mughal empire, the Kathak form was blended in a different style. It included Urdu ghazals, the Islamic verses, and ancient Sufism. The inclusion of Sufism made this art a spiritual activity. Sufi is an expression of the inner soul. When the inner expressions were reflected, then the purity of this art form multiplied thousand times. It is said that Kathak declined in the colonial period but gained its glory back after independence of India.
Patterns & Style
The developed styles of Kathak dance are recognized from locations like Jaipur, Banaras, and Lucknow. The Jaipur Kathak concentrates on the movements of the foot. Banaras & Lucknow has emphasized facial gestures and elegant motions of the hand. The Chakradhar kathak developed in Chhattisgarh is based on the chakras or rounds included by a dancer while performing. The sanctity of this art form multiplies by the rhythmic sounds of ghungroo or small bells wore by dancers.
Philosophically, it showcases the unity and oneness of all, as described in Vedanta. The dancer performs all the steps and movement of both the male and female. And there are no biases in this. The flow of grace, gesture, movements, and form is a beautiful fusion of mind, body, and spirit. In the basic Pranam (a respectful greeting) at the beginning and end of Kathak dance, a dancer will bow to all the five elements of nature i.e., Earth, water, fire, air, and space. The combination of these five forces in art forms creates energy which is essential for stepping into the realms of eternity. In Kathak, the body movement is moved proportionally through both the axis of vertical and horizontal. This implies the balanced essence of this style of dance and an embracing of reality. The soft movements of the neck, hands, and wrist deeply massage the energy source of our body and keep the flow of creativity active.
The Kathak dance is inspirational, devotional, carries cultural significance, and a very good therapeutic activity. It gives a sense of relief and identity with existence. It praises the creator in a unique way which triggers the source of energy within us. In this art, you never dance alone, but the energy of forces always accompanies you. The special thing of Kathak is the adaption of your body language in all the emotions of love, fear, anger, pride, sadness, surprise, excitement, and so on. Kathak dance is a form of meditation where a dancer generates awareness of consciousness. To put it simply, this dance is not merely dance but a divine encounter.
If you have enjoyed reading this up, please share your thoughts about it. Kathak isn’t my cup of tea. I learned the sense and beauty of this craft with a very fascinating kathak dancer Sakshi Akare. She’s a phenomenal dancer and instructor. If you’re interested in learning more, you can connect to her Instagram page _sakshiakare_dance. Thanks for reading the post.