Kathak is one of the eight classical dance forms of India. This form traces its origin back to the Hindu temples of Northern India, where it portrayed the epic tales contained in the Hindu scriptures of Ramayana and Mahabharata. There are three major schools or gharana of Kathak- Jaipur, Lucknow and the less prominent Raigarh gharana. During the medieval period, Kathak became the most important part of the Court culture performing under the special patronage of Persian and Mughal rulers in India.
The word Kathak has been derived from the Sanskrit word katha meaning a story. A conventional Kathak performance progresses in tempo from slow to fast, ending in a dramatic climax. This classical dance style lays more emphasis on footwork as compared to the hand gestures (mudras) and body movements. A short dance composition is known as a tukda and a longer one as a toda. There are various other compositions in this form- few of them are illustrated below.
- Vandana- the dancer begins the dance with an invocation to the divinity
- Aamad- the first introduction of spoken rhythmic pattern into the performance
- Tihai- a footwork composition consisting of a long set of beats