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Showing posts from June, 2020

A true patron of Kathak – Nawab Wajid Ali Shah

Wajid Ali Shah was the tenth and last king of Awadh (a state in pre republic India). He was a poet, playwright, dancer and a great patron of arts. It was during his rule [1822-1887] that Kathak regained its glory. Many scholars credit him for the revival of Kathak dance and securing its status as one of the major classical Indian dance styles. In the ancient times kathak was performed at temples [during Bhakti (devotion) movement] but gradually the Kathak dancers, in search of better prospects and living, left the temples and entered into the royal courts. Many emperors and rulers contributed to the growth and development of Kathak but it was under the guidance and patronage of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah that Kathak achieved its greater dimensions. As I mentioned in my earlier blog Wajid Ali Shah not only enjoyed giving patronage to dancers but also himself enjoyed dancing, he learnt kathak under the guidance of Guru Thakur prasad and Durga Prasad. Wajid Ali Shah started two

Evolution of Kathak Dance

As a kathak dancer I was always curious to know how this dance form evolved. When I started reading about it, I found that it took centuries for Kathak to reach this present form of a graceful dance style. While I looked back into the history to find its journey through various stages, I found many interesting facts about this dance form which I thought to share with you all. Kathak originated in Northern India. The word kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘katha’ meaning a story. When a dancer depicts a katha [story] through his or her dance, he/she is called ‘kathakar’ [story teller]. Kathak is said to have originated from the travelling bards [kathakar] of Northen India. They used to wander around and recite or sing stories from epics and mythology such as ‘Shiv Vandana’ (prayer for Lord Shiva), ‘Saraswati vandana’ (prayer for goddess Saraswati) with the elements of dance. Over a period of time that dance style got the name ‘kathak’. These ‘kathakars’ communicated storie

The Sound Of Ghungroos

In my earlier blog, I mentioned that “Sangeet Natya Academy” [the national academy of performing arts in India] recognizes 8 Indian dances as classical dances of India. They are Bharatnatyam from Tamil Nadu, Kathak from Uttar Pradesh, Kuchipudi from Andhra Pradesh, Odissi from Odisha, Sattriya from Assam, Manipuri from Manipur, and Kathakali and Mohiniyattam from Kerala. All these dances are culturally rich. They are traditionally regional and include their own music and recitation in local language or Sanskrit. They have their own different costumes, makeup and jewellery. Each of them proudly presents its own style and rhythm and they all are graceful and truly delightful for the spectators. Irrespective of all their differences we can observe that they all have one thing in common and that is “Ghungroo”. “Ghungroo” are small metal bells, mostly made of brass, strung together to form a musical anklet. A string of ghungroo can range from 50 to greater than 200 bells knott