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Volume 12 Number 4, September 1959

Volume 12 Number 4

In Praise of Kathak

In Praise of Kathak (Editorial)

Historical Survey
1. Background of Kathak
D.G. Vyas

2. Technical Terms Pertaining to Dance in General and Used in Kathak
Nirmala Joshi

3. The Schools of Kathak
a. Lucknow Gharana
Mohan Khokar

b. Jaipur Gharana
S.K. Saxena

c. Banaras Gharana

d. Genealogy of Kathak Dancers
Nirmala Joshi

4. Nautch Girls

5. Raigarh Raja’s Contribution to Kathak

6. Menaka: Pioneer of Kathak Dance Drama
Shirin Vajifdar

The Technique of Kathak
1. Nritta
M.S. Kalyanpurkar

2. Nritya
Mohan Khokar

3. Hastas
Maya Rao

Music, Theme and Costume
1. The Role of Rhythm
S.K. Saxena

2. Raslila – An Operatic Drama
S. Awasthi

3. Kathak Costume in Mughal Times
C.L. Fabri

4. Some Songs of Binda Din Maharaj
Nirmala Joshi

Appendix: Biographies

In Praise of Kathak [Editorial]
Anand, Mulk Raj
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 2-3

The ancient dramaturgy of the Kathak style of dance percolated, through the vedic and Classical periods, into the medieval Hindu revival when it found its imagery in the Krishna-Radha cults. The Mughal Emperor Akbar recognized its emotive aspects, and from then on, the content of Kathak tended to be secular. After a period of decline in the hands of the lesser nobility, the poet-king Wajid Ali Shah restored its position in the Lucknow gharana of Oudh. After India's independence, its surviving gurus were honoured by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, and Kathak's revitalization now depends on its individual practitioners.

Historical Survey
Vyas, D.G.
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, p. 4

The origin of the dance in ancient times.

Historical Survey: The Background of Kathak
Vyas, D.G.
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 4-7

Kathak is the specific dance style adopted by the Kathakas, who are mentioned in Sanskrit and Jaina texts as storytellers recounting the epics and myths. In the north, Kathak and Manipuri have a common background, but with different styles. The community of Kathakas became prominent in Mughal times, and flourished under the impetus of Vaishnavism. Krishna and Radha are the principal subjects, and figure in the kurtanas (poetic compositions). Kathak includes all the classical forms - nritta, nritya, and natya – and emphasizes foot movements. It derives its authority, like the other classical dances, from Bharata's Natyashastra.

Technical Terms Pertaining to Dance in General and Used in Kathak
Joshi, Nirmala
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 8-9

Tala (rhythm) is the essence of Kathak and terms connected with this aspect are explained here.

The Schools of Kathak
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 10-18

Each gharana is discussed in a separate section.

Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 19-20
The professional dancing girls who came from Persia in Mughal times adapted their own dance forms to the Kathak style, resulting in the Kathak of the Nautchwalis or dancing girls. The nautch-girls existed as a class, as described in chronicles of the medieval period. The various courts reduced dance art merely to entertainment; nonetheless, some of the Nautch-girls practised an accomplished form of Kathak, thus preserving the continuity of this dance style.
Raigarh Raja's Contribution to Kathak
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 21-22
Raja Chakradhar Singh of Raigarh, in the Chhatisgarh region of Madhya Pradesh, was a great patron of Kathak, and several Kathak masters served at his court. The Raja himself was an expert in the pakhawaj and tabla and he also learnt Kathak. Kathak was almost a daily performance in Raigarh, but on festive occasions many Kathak dancers assembled at Raigarh and performed for the king's audience and the general public.
Menaka: Pioneer of Kathak Dance Drama
Vajifdar, Shirin
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 23-24
Menaka initiated a new kind of choreography into Kathak, and created several ballets. She discarded the lehra -- the monotonous beating of the rhythm -- and made skilful use of classical music. She opened Nrityalayan, a centre for classical dance in Khandala in 1938.
The Technique of Kathak: Nritta
Kalyanpurkar, M.S.
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 25–27 + 4 unnumbered
The nritta aspect, which is predominant in Kathak, expresses certain rhythmic patterns interpreted by the limbs of the body, and these compositions are called bolas. The 12 types of bolas, are explained. Their composition makes use of the jatis and yatis. Nritta is accompanied by a one-line musical piece called lehra.
The Technique of Kathak: Nritya
Khokar, Mohan
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 28-43
Nritya implies the rendering of the meaning of a song or story through suggestive facial expressions, hand gestures, and symbolic body postures. The nritya items in Kathak are named after the styles of singing, for example, Dhrupad, Keertan, Hori, Dhamar, Pada and Bhajan, Thumri, Dadra, and Ghazal. These items are explained and illustrated.
The Technique of Kathak: The Hastas in Kathak
Rao, Maya
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 44-47
Kathak has evolved its own language of hastas or hand gestures. The Kathak dancer employs the various hastas, separately or in combination, to denote objects and characters, and aspects such as the vibrancy of life, subtle moods, suggestive gestures, and rhythmic patterns. With the synthesis of Hindu and Islamic cultures, certain decorative gestures were introduced, and became integral parts of gats. Some of these gats are described. A number of hastas used in Kathak are identifiable with those in texts such as the Abhinaya Darpana, Bharatarnava, and Natyashastra Sangraha.
Music, Theme and Costume: The Role of Rhythm in Kathak
Saxena, S.K.
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 48-53
Certain general remarks are made regarding concepts in the field of tala (rhythm): the significance of matra as a means of measuring the laya; the nature of layakaari (experience); aspects of Kathak dance from the viewpoint of rhythm; and the element of imagination.
Music, Theme and Costume: Raslila - An Operatic Drama
Awasthi, S.
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 54-57

Rasalila of the Brajbhumi, the most ancient and developed form of folk drama, evolved from the tradition of recitation of the Lila-Kavya, which reached a culminating point with poet Jayadeva in the 12th century. The present form of Rasalila, which incorporates some elements of the ancient forms of musical dramas, was created and strengthened in the 16th century with the rise of Vaishnavism and the magnificent temples. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the Krishna Lilas and Krishna paintings interacted with each other in their parallel development. The dance content of the Rasalila is either the stylized and traditional variety practised in the Nityarasa (prologue) or the simple mimetic dance borrowed from other dance arts. The rhythmic patterns of the dance can be understood through the Parmul (bola-patterns) of the dances of Krishna, Radha, and other characters in the Rasalilas. The performance resembles the Kathak style, mainly because of the common theme of Krishna lore, and the role of the accompaniments of kirtan, dhrupad, and other dance-songs.

Music, Theme and Costume: Kathak Costume in Mughal Times
Fabri, Charles
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 58-61
The tutu-shaped ballet skirt, seen in a miniature from the Akbarnama (c. 1605) and in a Rajasthani picture illustrating the Raja Megha (c. 1610) had a short life and was replaced by a completely transparent skirt and the churidar by the time of Jahangir. This dance costume is depicted in a leaf of the Rasikapriya dated here close to 1620, and is seen as late as 1750. The multiple skirt of the ballet dancer gave way to the churidar pyjama early in Jahangir's reign.
Music, Theme and Costume: Some Songs of Binda Din Maharaj
Joshi, Nirmala
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, p. 62
The songs are accompanied by their English translations.
Appendix: Biographies
Vol. 12 No. 4, September 1959, pp. 63-66
36 biographies of some well-known Kathak dancers from various schools are provided here.