Kathak and its Gharana:
Did you know that the word Kathak is etymologically related to Katha, which means story? The dance form has all the classical elements of storytelling such as Nritta (rigid stylization consisting of pure dance movements), Nritya (dance) and Natya (drama). It also has a wide range of Bhawa Darshana (expressions), commonly known as Abhinaya. The classical dance technique emphasizes on the beauty of footwork. The music, dance and even the attires, like anarkali suits, speak of elegance and grace. In style and form, Kathak derives its authority from the Natya Shastra.
The Gharanas are referred to and revered according to the geographical areas of their origin.
It originated from the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the ruler of Awadh in the early 19th century. The dance form was shaped to perfection by the pioneering effort of Thakur Prasad Maharaj, the court dancer and guru of the Nawab. The tradition was carried through by his son and grandson. The style is characterized by graceful movements, elegance and natural poise. Artistically designed dance concerto, poignant vocal compositions, like thumris, horis dadras and abhinaya (expression acting), as well as inventiveness are the hallmarks of this style. At present, Pandit Briju Maharaj is representing this Gharana.
It developed in the courts of the Kachchwaha Kings of Jaipur in Rajasthan and depicts Veer Ras (heroism) and revolves around the Kshatriya (Rajput) clan. It emphasizes on the technical aspects of dance forms, such as complex and powerful footwork, multiple spins, laykari (variations) and artistic compositions of different tales. The dance is mainly composed on Parmelu bols and Pakhawaj (style of music), such as parans. Famous artists of this Gharana are Pandit Sundar Prasad, Pandit Gauri Shankar and Jaykumai.
The Banaras Gharana:
It was developed by Acharya Sukhdev Maharaj. Since it originates from the holy city of Banaras which is termed as the land of Gods- Devanagari, so the style is based on bhajans and kavit parans (holy recitals). The trademark of this dance form is the exclusive use of the Natwari or dance bols, and the footwork has many variations, while the spins are kept to a minimum but are taken from both left and right side with poise and grace. Two great maestros, the Late Natraj Gopi Krishna Ji and Kathak Queen Sitara Devi Ji, have taken this dance form to new heights.
Traditional Ensemble of Kathak
Art has the power to melt boundaries. In this traditional costume, you can witness a striking amalgamation of Hindu and Muslim culture.
Traditional Attires for Men: Men flaunt their masculinity and creative streak through:
Bare chest with a Dhoti draped in Bengali style (various pleats and fan finish on one end) and an optional small waist coat covering only the chest area.
Kurta (at least knee-length) and Churidar termed as Angrakha (a variation of the Anarkali suit with an opening in front and bought together with threads).
Traditional Attires for Women: Women reveal their confidence, charm and grace through:
Lehenga-Choli with an optional veil. The Lehenga touches the ankle and has dramatic flares while the blouse is well-fitted and short.
Anarkali Suits are the Mughal style costume. Optional accessories include a small peaked cap and a waistcoat.
This beautiful dance form has been immortalized on the silver screen and has wooed the Indian audiences with unforgettable and incredible pieces of art, like Madhubala adorning anarkali suit and performing jab pyaar kiya toh darna kya in Mughal-e-Azam, Rekha in Umrao Jaan and Madhuri dixit in Devdaas. Their traditional attires, like anarkali suits or lehengas, and dancing style have cast a magic spell that never ceases to end.