“Katha kahe so Kathak Kahave” The name Kathak has been derived from the Sanskrit word katha, meaning story. The Katthaka is the one who tells a story. Kathak, which originated in northern India, represents one of the eight forms of Indian classical dance.
Initially, dancers known as Katthakas used to perform in village squares and temple courtyards across the subcontinent, unraveling mythological and moral tales from the ancient scriptures. Their recitals were complemented by hand gestures and facial expressions. Music and dance were used by them to narrate and enliven the story.
Kathak underwent a major transition due to the influence of Mughal dance and music. It is believed to have gone through its greatest transformation during 15th century. Primarily a temple ritual, the dance form later changed to cater to royal court entertainment. The kathakars added themes based upon the contemporary human experience of the time.
After the decline of Mughal Empire, these performers were patronized by other kings, such as those in Rajasthan and other minor princely states.
Kathak has been enriched by the confluence of many cultures over the course of history. It embodies and reflects the dance characteristics of these cultures. Drama, emotion and dance technique comprise the three main aspects of Kathak. The elements of Kathak include linear and circular extensions of the body, controlled hand and body movements’, intricate and rhythmic footwork and fast pirouettes. These elements, when combined with a dancer’s exuberance and interpretation, make it a compelling and evocative form of dance expression.