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Kathak- Quick Facts

Description, History


  1. Kathak is one of the seven classical dances of India and belongs to North India

  2. It has three Gharanas or Schools- Lucknow Gharana, Jaipur Gharana and Benaras Gharana. Some scholars believe Raigarh to be a separate Gharana as well

  3. Kathak is a highly syncretic art form that is an amalgamation of Margi and Desi traditions, urban courtly and rural culture, courtesan repertoire, musician communities, Hindu and Muslim artists , and the Kathaks family which forms the Lucknow Gharana today.

  4. The Male Costumes for Kathak dancers usually consist of Kurta, Pyajama and Dupatta tied on the wait; or Dhoti with Bandi.

The Female costumes for Kathak dancers usually have two variations- Lehenga-Choli with Dupatta , and Anarkali with Churidar Pajami .

Benaras Brocade and silk are most common choices of design and material.

There is constant evolution of costumes, with contemporary designs experimenting with cloth cuts, layers, dupatta, widened pyajamas, etc.

5. Kathak is largely seen as a solo dance form, but group choreographies have seen a very steady rise in popularity as the need of changing times from the 1960s onwards and are equally and in some cases more popular than solo recitals.

6. The repertoire of musical instruments that can accompany a Kathak recital are- Tabla, Pakhavaj, Harmonium and Vocalist, Sarangi, Sitar, Flute. The dancer rarely has all these together in one recital, but balances the percussion instruments with the melody. The most common instruments are Tabla, Sarangi and Harmonium, also a strong carry over from the courtesan tradition.

7. The leelas of Krishna, the divine love of Radha and Krishna are very popular in Kathak and form a large part of the Abhinaya Paksha, or expressional aspect. Interestingly, the character of Radha is not mentioned in any of the Puranas, but finds its first recorded mention in Jayadeva’s Geet Govindam(12th century)

8. Kathak dance is known for its dazzling spins, footwork and technical virtuosity; along with a vast expanse of Abhinaya expressed through Thumris, Bhajans, Dadra, etc.