WHAT IS KATHAK
Katha means story and Kathak is a person who tells stories in form of music and dance. Thus the dance came to be known as Kathak. It is an ancient art form and finds mention in Mahabharata also. In those days Kathaks were attached to temples telling people stories from the epics and Puranas. When Muslim rulers ruled India the dance form came to the courts of the rulers who added variations and styles to it. Thus it is a fusion of several folk dances, the traditional dance drama forms of the temples and has a distinct Hindu-Muslim texture. 3 main Gharanas or centers of this dance form are Jaipur, Benaras and Lucknow . The Benaras gharana maintained the purity of the dance. The specialty of Lucknow gharana is delicacy and sophistication in form of gesticulations, salami, etc. The specialty of Jaipur gharana is vigor, rhythmic finesse and vitality. The dancers of Jaipur gharana dance on difficult talas like Laxmitala, Brahma Tala, etc. apart from the traditional and common Teentala.
The Kathak dance goes through a regular format mostly concentrating on rhythm; its variation being- Tatkar, Paltas, Thoras, Amad and Parans. The dances are performed straight-legged and the ankle bells worn by the dancers adeptly controlled. The ankle bells hold special meaning in Kathak as the dancer creates various music tempos with its help. In Kathak hand gestures are not separate, but are part of the body movements. Its specialty is its foot-work and pirouettes along with the magical use of glances. The costume now-a-days is typically Muslim with a flared ankle-length dress worn over churidars (tight pants). Over the years Kathak has transformed from religious dance-dramas to a romantic dance form.
Some of the exponents of this dance form are Birju Maharaj, Sitara Devi, Lachu Maharaj, Shambhu Maharaj, Pandit Achchan Maharaj, Shovana Narain, Pandit Durga Lal, Kumudi Lakhia, Damayanti Joshi and Uma Sharma .