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Kathak: The Classical Dance of India, Part 1 of 3



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Thousands of years ago in the northern region of India, travelling bards went from place to place, telling epic tales and myths through dance, music and song. These wandering storytellers were the creators of Kathak dance, which has evolved to become one of eight main forms of Indian classical dance today. To learn more about this age-old art form, Supreme Master Television had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Sakshi Batra Nayyar, a professionally trained Kathak dancer, choreographer, and dance teacher from New Delhi, India.

There are three main gharanas, or schools of Kathak that are named after the regions where they were developed: Jaipur, Benares, and Lucknow. Ms. Nayyar belongs to the Jaipur school. She goes on to explain the characteristics of each school. “For instance, Jaipur Gharana focuses on a lot of technical aspects of Kathak. So, foot work, fast-paced pieces, very fast spins. So, it's all about the pure dance. Lucknow Gharana, on the other hand, emphasizes graceful movements, elegance, expressions. So, a lot of acting is there.”

“For instance, Kathak and Spanish flamenco, they are very similar, because people say that those bards traveled to Spain and then they transferred the art form to the Spanish. And then again, ballet is very similar to Kathak, the same graceful movements, the pirouettes, hand movements; everything is so similar, if you see the cultures around the world.”

“So, in Kathak, when we start, we start from here; we start from the midpoint, which is called Utpatti. Utpatti means ‘the source,’ ‘the origin.’ The second part is facial expression. So, in each classical dance form, we use Navarasa, the nine moods that we call, nine different moods or expressions. And the third one is Hasta. So, all the hastakas - (as many hastakas) whatever hastak we are doing, that's the third aspect. So, in Kathak, after every piece, we go still, which is the sum, which is the full stop.”

Ms. Nayyar graciously demonstrated a classical Kathak interpretation of a modern song “Mi Gente Indian Raga Mix” with rhythmic foot patterns, rapid spins, and flowing movements.

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