Kathak is a refined classical dance
form one of the six foremost classical dances of India. Its name
is derived from the word 'Katha' meaning story.
Kathak dance form has originated in
Northern India during the 6th - 7th century AD. In ancient times,
there was a class of professional storytellers who recited the epics
and mythological stories with added element of abhinaya.They
were called Kathakas who travelled around the country entertaining
and educating the people with sacred legends, folklores and mythology.
By the 13th century, the style of singing
by Kathakas had developed its own special features. The emphasis
of the dance moved from the religious to the aesthetic. Abhinaya
(the use of mime and gesture) became subtler, with emphasis placed
on the performer's ability to express a theme in many different
ways and with infinite nuances.
Later it spread to Lucknow, Raipur
and Jaipur. The style that flourished under patronage of Muslim
rulers of Lucknow came to be known as Lucknow Gharana. Lucknow Gharana
was greatly influenced by Muslim culture and traditions. The Lucknow
Gharana developed a style of Kathak that is characterized by precise,
finely detailed movements and an emphasis on the exposition of thumri,
a semi-classical style of love song.
The footwork is matched by the percussion
instruments like tabala and pakhwaj. It has very intricate movements
of the hands and feet along with facial expressions set to complex
time cycles. The dance movements include numerous pirouettes executed
at lightning speed and ending in statuesque pose.