DANCES OF INDIA
Kathak originated in north India, more specifically in Utter Pradesh. It is known for its sparkling footwork, fast whirling movements and mimetic dance.
The word Kathak is derived from the name 'Kathakars' meaning ‘story’. The dancers told stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata (Which are famous Indian Epics) and other ‘puranas’. These dancers were taught by temple priests who were well versed in dance and music.
This was prior to the advent of the Mughal dynasty in North India. With Mughal rule these performing ladies were banned from performing in temples and were made to serve in courts for entertainment. They developed a style for pure entertainment of the emperors. It said that under the patronage of Emperor Akbar the performers grew and flourished.
This dance form depicts "life" and is based on the philosophy of the trinity - creation (Brahma), preservation (Vishnu), and destruction (Mahesh). Its poses are seldom static and it has a continuous flow of movements very near to life. Equal stress is laid on intricate footwork and beauty of expression.
Kathak is a wonderful blend of Hindu and Muslim culture. Therefore, the costumes are gorgeous and are an amalgamation of Hindu Lehenga-Choli and Muslim – Chunari-Kameez called Angrakha.
Kathak can be divided into nritta and abhinaya on the one hand and tandava and lasya on the other.
Nritta and abhinaya are applicable to the movements in the dance style.
Tandava and lasya have to do with the type of beats which are played on the tabla and executed by the feet.
There are mainly two types of hand gestures,
Single Hand Gestures, called
Asanjukta Hasta Mudra, and Combined Handed Gestures, called Sanjukta Hasta Mudra.
The most well known guru and performer of the Kathak style today is Guru Birju Maharaj. His mastery of the style and efforts makes him unique in his field. He comes from a long lineage of dance guru's of Kathak and today his students are themselves good performers and teachers. The other famous gurus are the late Guru Durga Lal, (late)Guru Gopi Krishna, Sitara Devi, Guru Kumudini Lakhia and Uma Sharma.