Kathak

Kathak, deriving its name from the Sanskrit words 'katha' (story) and 'kathakar' (storyteller), is the acknowledged classical dance form of the Indo-Gangetic belt. The earliest reference to the dance form Kathak, is from the 4 th century BC preceding the writing of the Bharata's Natyashastra, the revered Indian Treatise on dramaturgy. The seeds of the dance form lies in the accompanying gesticulations and mime that became evident at the height of involvement and ecstasy of devotion of the Brahmin priests in the course of delivering their sermon to the congregation wherein they recounted mythological and moral tales. By 4 the century BC, it had evolved into a high state of fine art as is evident from the Prakrit verse. The bhakti movement brought in an element of romanticism. Portrayed through the popular tales of Radha and Krishna, human emotions of devotion, yearning, sorrow and joy were given prominence.

During the medieval period of Indian history, the Mughal era saw yet another facet of formalization and stylization of the dance form in the hands of the traditional male Brahmin Kathaks. Mimetic sequences always centering around Hindu mythological tales saw varied interpretations. Natural movements, intricate rhythmic patterns, controlled vitality, complicated footwork, breathtaking pirouettes and heart rending mime are the hallmarks of Kathak. It subtly explores a range of moods with delicacy and balance, extending the limits of arts representing a grand 'plurality' so quintessential to Indian philosophy.