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Kathak -

General Background:

This dance originates in the Northern regions of India, and is named after the Kathakars, or storytellers of the ancient times. The purpose of this dance is to convey mythological tales and stories of the epic heroes. The dance and  the stories are expressed through the arm, eye, footwork, and face gestures. Small bells called gungurus are tied around the ankles . This dance is accompanied by a plethora of classical Indian instruments such as hand drums (tabla) and cycles (tal). This dance roots back to the Bhakti movement of the 8th century, which emphasized the incorporation of the traditional stories of the early life of the Hindu god Krishna.

Definitions for clarification:

Taal- The clapping or beat used to dance to.

Ghatbhav- Element of storytelling

Mudras- Hand Gestures

Gungurus- Bells Wrapped around the dancer’s ankles

The Learning Process:

In Kathak, the system to learn the dance is that there are 7 levels to master. Each level has its own set of skill to learn before moving on the next level. Each taal has different number of beats in that cycle, and is learned in the school. Once a student has completed his or her studies the final graduation performance is called Rangmanch Pravesh.

The outline to learn the dance is:

Level One: Prarambhik

- Teen Taal is introduced to the students ,and they learn the basics of Mudras

Level Two : Praveshika Pratham

  • Teen taal-16 beat cycle, Dadra, Kerawa

  • Ghatbhav-story telling

  • Mudras are thought

Level Three: Praveshika Purna

  • Teen taal- 16 beat cycle

  • Jhaap tal-10 beat cycle

Level Four: Madhyama  Pratham

  • Teen taal- 16 beat cycle

  • Jhaap taal- 10 beat cycle

  • Eke taal-12beat cycle

Level Five: Madhyama Purna

  • Roopak taal-7 beat cycle

  • Dhamar taal-14 beat cycle

Level Six: Visharad Pratham

  • Pancham Sawari taal-15 beat cycle

  • Raas taal-13 beat cycle

Level Seven: Visharad Purna

  • Matt taal-18 beat cycle

  • Shikkar taal-17 beat cycle

Kathak: Intro

Shirin Kuppuswami and Kareena Udeshi , both level seven kathak students , provided the information on the learning process for kathak.

Kathak: Watch
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