Thursday, March 19, 2009


I had an opportunity to attend a kathak dance program during my
visit to Pune last month.This was for the first that i happened to
watch the live performance of Kathak.It was just mindblowing!
Overall, that musical evening did leave a lasting impression on my
mind wanting to know more about its origin,forms,their costumes
and more.This is what i finally found out.

Kathak is one of the most popular classical dance forms of North
which is also called the Natwari dance. The word kathak
means"to tell a story"..It indicates the existence of a community
of story-tellers
through enacting the various parts of the story.
In its present form Kathak was developed and given patronage in
the court
of Nawabs of Awadh.Kathak has been promoted
through three main gharanas
- Lucknow, Jaipur, and Banaras.

Kathak dances are performed straight-legged and the ankle bells
worn by the
dancers are skillfully controlled. In Kathak dance the
emphasis is more on
footwork as against hasta mudras or hand
formations in Baratnatyam dance.

Kathak dance can be performed by both men and women.
A Kathak dancer is not required strictly to stick to fixed steps and
stages in.
He or she can change the sequence of steps to suit his or
her skill and style of dancing.
Modern exponents of Kathak dance
are Birju Maharaj and Uma Sharma.

Female costume
More commonly, the costume is a lehenga-choli combination, with an optional odhni or veil. The lehenga is loose ankle-length skirt, and the choli is a tight fitting blouse, usually short-sleeved. Both can be highly ornately embroidered or decorated. The lehenga is sometimes adapted to a special dance variety, similar to a long ghagra, so that during spins, the skirt flares out dramatically.
Mughal costume for women consists of an angarkha on the upper body. The design is akin to a chudidaar kameez, but is somewhat tighter fitting above the waist, and the 'skirt' portion explicitly cut on the round to enhance the flare of the lower half during spins. Beneath this, the legs are covered by the chudidaar or figure hugging trousers folded up giving the look of cloth bangles. Optional accessories are a small peaked cap and a bandi or small waistcoat to enhance the bust-line. A belt made of zari or precious stones is also worn on the waist.

Male costume

The traditional costume for men to be bare-chested.Below the waist is the dhoti,usually tied in the Bengal style, that is with many pleats and a fan finish to one of the ends.

The Moghul costume is kurta-chudidar.The kurta can be a simple
one,or again,
adapted for dance to incorporate wider flare, but is
usually at least knee-length.
Men may also wear an angarkha.
Particularly older variety costumes include
the small peaked cap too.

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