Open In App
Related Articles

Beyond Regional Frontiers: The story of Kathak

Like Article
Save Article
Report issue

The term Kathak is gotten from the Vedic Sanskrit word Katha which implies means” story”, and “Kathakar” which signifies” the person who recounts a story”, or “to do with stories”. One of the significant Indian Classical cotillion shapes, its starting point is traditionally stories”. Attributed to the voyaging poetasters of antiquated northern India known as Kathakars or narrators.  Accordingly, Kathak is not simply a cotillion yet an exodus of a story.




Kathak refers to a very prominent Indian classical dance and is thought to have been started by the wandering bards in North India, who were known as Kathakars, which means the storytellers. They used to travel and then convey their stories by the means of music, dance, and also songs.

Kathakars created a pattern of mystical commitment which has advanced in medieval Hinduism. They covey stories with the help of rhythmic foot movements, hand gestures, facial expressions, and also eye work. The dance form creates a link with antiquated folklore and Indian stories, mostly from the life of Lord Krishna.

There are three sorts of Gharanas or schools which are:

  1. Jaipur Gharana
  2. Benaras Gharana
  3. Lucknow Gharana

Origin of Kathak

Presumably, starting in Banaras or Varanasi it spread its bodies to different corridors like Jaipur, and Lucknow as well as multitudinous different sections of the north and northwest India. This cotillion structure has been intensively amped by the stalwart customs of different sections. The cotillion structure was an objectification of essential commemoratives of narrators with conventional people dance. 

Features of Kathak Dance

There are three chief main sections of the Kathak dance:


This is the section where the artist offers his/her prayer or kind of salutation to his/her guru and to the god. The artists use mudras or hand gestures for the same.


The pure dance portrayed by the artist is known as Nritta. Starts with a slow and graceful movement of the neck, wrists, and also the eyebrows. This is followed by the fast sequences according to the “bols”.


The artist showcases a story with gestures, expressions, and slow body movements which are accompanied by music.

Timeline Associated 

The timeline associated with the evolution and development of Kathak is mentioned below:

Association with Bhakti Movement 

The Lucknow Gharana is a type of Kathak established by Ishwari Prasad, a follower of the Bhakti development. It has an exceptional story behind its starting point. A tenant of Hadiya city in southeast Uttar Pradesh, it’s accepted that Lord Krishna showed up in his fantasies and educated him to produce” cotillion as a type of love”. Consequently, the cotillion structure was instructed by him, and his children which were also passed down to their cousins. 

This custom went on for in excess of six periods consequently conveying forward this rich heritage. It came to be honored as the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak by Indian jotting. It took its provocation from the legends of Lord Krishna and his eternal love Radha portrayed in textbooks like the Bhagavata Purana’. The accounts of Radha and Krishna were impeccably caught and portrayed in people’s plays known as”rasalila” which were performed by Kathak specialists. 

Mughal Influence

This antiquated old-style cotillion structure that was significantly connected with Hindu stories was around honored by the courts and nobles of the Mughal time frame. The cotillion acted in Mughal courts anyway and acclimated a more sexual structure without having a lot of reference to specific motifs applied before that conveyed strict or profound ideas. 

Acts of naturalness were made by the artists prevalently to engage the Muslim crowd with sexy and sexual exhibitions which in malignancy of the fact that we’re unique in relation to the well-established moving idea still contained an unpretentious communication in it like the affection for Radha-Krishna. 

In the end, Central Asian and Persian subjects turned into a piece of their collection. These included supplanting of sari with an ensemble that uncovered the waist, adding a straightforward cover in the outfit that embodied the bones worn by middle age Stew artists, and spinning while at the same time pacing as done in the Sufi cotillion. When the frontier European authorities showed up in India, Kathak preliminarily came famed as a court recreation and was to a lesser degree a combination of antiquated Indian old-style cotillion structures and Persian-Central Asian cotillion structures with the artists being indicated as nautch youthful ladies.

Decline during Social Rule Development of parochial rule in the eighteenth century

Stuck to the foundation of the colonist guideline in the nineteenth century saw a decline of different old-style cotillion structures which were exposed to disdainful buffoonery and debilitation including Kathak. In the end, the social shame related to nautch youthful ladies added with profoundly introductory and wretched intelligence from the Christian evangelists and British authorities, who held them and the Devadasis of South India as hustlers, lowered similar fabrics. The Anglican priests who were introduced to Hinduism appeared from the recommendation of Reverend James Long who proposed that Kathak tradesmen ought to embrace European legends and stories related to Christianity and get relieved of the Indian and Hindu legends. The Christian evangelists transferred off the adversary of cotillion development in 1892 to stop the similar practice. 

The book Wrongs of Indian Womanhood by Marcus. Fuller distributed in 1900 exaggerated the aesthetics and erogenous signals acted out during Kathak exhibitions in Hindu sanctuaries and family capacities. The nautch youthful ladies weren’t just lowered by the papers and authorities of colonist rule but at the same time were stifled monetarily by compressing their donors to stop financial help. The Madras Presidency under British pilgrim rule banned the custom of moving into Hindu sanctuaries in 1910. The Indian people group opposed similar boycotts securing oppression of similar rich and antiquated Hindu customs in the affection of social change. Multitudinous traditional artificer Pentecostals addressed similar isolation.

Restoration of Kathak 

Amidst the similar commotion, the families put forth essays about keeping this old cotillion structure from evaporating and kept showing the structure including preparing youthful men. The advancement of the Indian occasion development in the medial twentieth century saw a work among Indians to restore public culture and custom and rediscover the rich history of India to revive the factual quintessence of the country. The restoration development of Kathak was created both in the Hindu and Muslim gharanas all the while, particularly in the Kathak-Mishra people group. Kalkaprasad Maharaj assumed a necessary part in attracting the worldwide viewership of Kathak.

Instruments and Music 

A Kathak prosecution might incorporate twelve old-style instruments counting further upon the impact and depth anticipated for a specific exhibition. Anyway, many instruments are typically employed in a Kathak prosecution like the tabla that orchestrates well with the measured bottom developments of the artist and constantly emulates the sound of similar footwork developments or the other way around to make a splendid jugalbandi. A manjira that’s hand cymbals and sarangi or harmonium is also employed most constantly. 

FAQs on Beyond Regional Frontiers: The story of Kathak

Question 1: Define the term Kathak.


It refers to a prominent ancient Indian classical dance form and is thought to have been started by the wandering bards of North India known as the Kathakars or the storytellers.

Question 2: Where did Kathak originate?


Uttar Pradesh

Question 3: Under whose patronage did Kathak grow into a major art form?


Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh.

Question 4: Who were Kathaks?


Kathaks was originally a caste of storytellers in the temples of north India, who made performances with gestures and songs.

Question 5: Mention all the six dance forms that are recognized as classical.


  1. Bharatnatyam
  2. Kathakali
  3. Kathak
  4. Manipuri
  5. Kuchipudi
  6. Odissi

Last Updated : 24 Feb, 2023
Like Article
Save Article
Share your thoughts in the comments
Similar Reads