The word Kathak has been derived from the word ‘Katha’ which means the art of storytelling. Kathak is one among the 8 of the well known classical dances in India. It is originated in north India and is very similar to Bharatnatyam. This dance form has its origins from the ancient northern India, who were named as Kathakars or story tellers.
There are generally two main gharanas from where today’s Kathak dancers draw their lineage. The first and well known Gharana is the Gharanas of Jaipur, Lucknow and (born in the courts of the Kachwaha Rajput kings, the Nawab of Oudh, and Benaras respectively).The other gharana is Raigarh gharana which is less prominent , but has become more popular today as it is a combination of all the previous gharanas.
Under a Kathak performance there is a progression in performance from slow to fast. The dance composition which is very short is called tukra and long dance composition is called toda.
A Kathak dance is sometimes composed and comprises only foot works which is the whole and sole of the performance, some Kathak dances are full of rhythm with time cycle. Most of the Kathak dances consists of bol which are borrowed from tabla like dha, ge, na, ‘ti’ ‘na’ ‘ka’ ‘dhi na’or it can be a dance variety ta, thei, tat, ta ta, tigda, digdig, tram theyi and so on.
The most distinct feature is the chakkar or the signature spins in katak it can be five,nine , fifeteen and so on. These spins are generally executed on heels people get excited by the spins which are done with great speed and nonstop with full grace, making an impression and mark in the eyes of the audience as it is done with full perfection.
Before the Mughal period Kathak was performed in temples as a way or means of prayer to god such dance composition was termed as Vandana and are mostly performed Vandana for Lord Vishnu and Lord Hamesha.
Apart from Vandana, Thaat was another composition which is said to be a traditional performance and is an art of standing. It is a short play with time cycles which ends in sam on Thaat position where Thaat refers to statuesque standing.
Kathak is graceful with the combination of many elements like
Salaami: It is related to Ar. ‘salaam’ – which is a salutation to the audience in the Muslim style.
Kavitt: Kavitt refers to the poem that is narrated and the performer makes the movement’s describing the prom
Gat: Gat is derived from the word gati (walk) which shows beautiful scenes from daily life.
These are some of the parts making the performance more beautiful and full of life.
We can say Kathak is full of traditional expressive abhiyan, ghazals, thurki, and expression called bhava.