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Origin of Kathak:

Kathak is one of the ten known and established dance forms in India. The beginning of Kathak is customarily ascribed to the voyaging poets of old northern India, known as Kathakars or storytellers. The term Kathak is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit word Katha signifying “story”, and kathaka in Sanskrit signifies “he who tells a story”, or “to do with stories”. Meandering Kathakas conveyed stories from the considerable legends and ancient mythology through dance, songs and music in a way like early Greek theatre. Kathak developed amid the Bhakti development, especially by consolidating the adolescence and stories of Hindu god Krishna, and also independently in the courts of north Indian kingdoms.

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Kathak is found in three particular patterns, named after the cities where the Kathak dance tradition evolved – Jaipur, Banaras and Lucknow. Stylistically, the Kathak dance shape accentuates rhythmic foot movements, decorated with small bells (Ghungroo), and the movement orchestrated to the music. The legs are by and large straight, and the story is told through a created vocabulary in view of the gestures of arms and upper body movement, facial expressions, stage movements, bends and turns. The main focus of the dance becomes the eyes and the foot movements. The eyes fill in as a medium of correspondence of the story the dancer is attempting to impart. The difference between the sub-traditions is the relative emphasis between acting versus footwork, with Lucknow style emphasizing acting and Jaipur style famed for its spectacular footwork.

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Kathak as a craftsmanship survived and flourished as a Verbal tradition, learnt and enhanced starting with one era then onto the next verbally and through practice.It transitioned, adjusted and coordinated the tastes of the Mughal courts in the sixteenth and seventeenth century especially Akbar, who mocked and declined the same during  the provincial British time.  Then was renewed as India picked up autonomy and tried to rediscover its old roots and a feeling of national personality through arts.

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Lucknow gharana of Kathak dance attributes its origins to a rural Krishna devotee named Ishwari from the village in southeast Uttar Pradesh, who aimed to develop Kathak dance as a form of loving devotion to Krishna.This school thrived after the Mughal Empire collapsed, when Kathak artists moved from Delhi to Lucknow under the sponsorship of Avadh nawabs who favored court dance culture. In the modern era, the Lucknow gharana style influences the dance school in New Delhi with Shambu Maharaj, Birju Maharaj and Lacchu Maharaj. Kathak choreography there has developed themes beyond Krishna-Radha, such as those based on the drama works of Kalidasa’s Shiva-Parvati and Bhavabhuti’sMalati-Madhav. This school has also attempted a Hindu-Muslim Kathak fusion style, highlighting the court dancers theme- ref Wikipedia