Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Dance Form That Depicts "Life", A Blend of Hindu & Muslim Culture

Kathak is the classical dance style of North India. The word Kathak is derived from katha , meaning "a story", and hence the word Kathak means a storyteller who recounted mythological tales in the temples and danced them in a state of ecstasy. Having its origin in the sacred text known as the Natya Shastra , set to be divinely inspired through the sage Bharata, it has become one of the most comprehensive and expressive languages of movement in the world.





With the advent of the Mogul rule in India (11th-18th centuries), it was transformed from a temple dance to court dance and became a brilliant entertainment. It was recognized in its innovative aspect by the Mogul emperors, especially the poet king Wajid Ali Shah who rescued it from oblivion, lent it dignity and founded the famed Lucknow Garana. There are three main gharanas, or schools of kathak.  These schools are named according to the geographical area in which they developed.  These are the Jaipur, Lucknow, and the Benares gharanas.  Each has a slight difference in interpretation and repertoire.


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. It is two-dimensional in character; it conceives the space basically in straight lines and does not put emphasis on giving a three-dimensional effect. The human form is conceived as a straight line and there are very few deviations from the vertical median.

Kathak is a wonderful blend of Hindu and Muslim culture. The costumes are very gorgeous for both Hindu (Lahenga-Choli) and Muslim - (Churidar-Kameez-Vest) called Angrakha.

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