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Kathak & Gharanas

Dance as the narration of a magical story; that recites on lips, illuminate’s imaginations and embraces the most sacred depths of souls.

Kathak is one of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance. The origin of Kathak is traditionally attributed to the traveling bards in the 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. Kathak 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 has three specific forms named as gharanas (schools), which mostly differ in the emphasis given to footwork versus acting, are more famous names, the Jaipur gharana, the Benaras gharana and the Lucknow gharana.

The Jaipur Gharana was created in the courts of the Kachchwaha rulers of Jaipur in Rajasthan. Under this form, the significance is put on the more specialized and technical aspects of dance, for example, complex and powerful footwork, multiple spins, and complicated compositions in different talas. There is additionally a more noteworthy fuse of organizations from the pakhawaj, for example, parans.

The Benaras Gharana was created and developed by Janakiprasad. It is described by the selective utilization of the natwari or dance bols, which are not the same as the tabla and the pakhawaj bols. There are contrasts in the thaat and tatkaar, and chakkars are kept at a minimum yet are frequently taken from both the right and the left-hand sides with equivalent certainty. There is additionally a great utilization of the floor, for instance, in the taking of sam. Despite the fact that the style created in Benaras, it thrives today from Bikaner.

The Lucknow Gharana was carved and developed in the courts of the Nawab of Oudh in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. It especially underscores beauty, grace, style, elegance and naturalness showing the great feminine styles in the dance. Abhinaya or expressional acting, particularly improvised, plays an exceptionally strong role in this style of kathak dance, and Birju Maharaj, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj are or were all popular for the naturalness and ingenuity of their abhinaya.

There have been some similarities that have been pointed out between Kathak and the Spanish dance of Flamenco. They both are said to be similar just because of the way feet movements are done.

Kathak has been shown in many Hindi movies including the iconic Pakeeza, Mughal-e-Azam, Shatranj Ke Khiladi and more.

In contemporary times, Kathak Yoga as part of the kathak movement techniques has been introduced by Pandit Chitresh Das.

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