Kathak, Indian Classical Dance Art
Kathak, the Indian classical dance form prevalent in the North, has a long past. Nurtured in the holy precincts of the Hindu temples, Kathak dance has over the centuries, attained refinement and enriched itself with various hues and embellishments. The art of story-telling which found expression in various forms like the Akhyana by the Manabhattas of Gujarat, the Pandavani by the artistes telling stories in Madhya Pradesh, the Harikathas and Kalakshepams of the South, the Kirtanas of the West, the art of Wari-liba, story-telling of the North-East, specially of Manipur, reflects the rich heritage Kathak has inherited over the years. In forms such as Baithakachi Lavani and the bhava to the Ghazals the range is both varied and vast.
Though essentially seen in its solo form, Kathak in its Natya aspects shares a large corpus of the Rasalilas of Brindavan. Its journey from the Hindu temples to the courts of the Mughals is quite fascinating and the various elements it has imbibed over the different periods in history have given Kathak an equisite character. The Persian influence, the patronage of the Muslim kings, the flowering of the two main gharanas (schools), the Jaipur and the Lucknow, and the contribution of the Maharaj Brothers, the famous descendants of Kalka-Bindadin, viz.; Acchan Maharaj, Shambhu Maharaj, Lacchu Maharaj and Birju Maharaj, the great gurus of Jaipur like Jailalji and Sunder Prasadji portray Kathak as it has developed in recent times. Whereas the Choreographic attempts by Madame Menaka and later on by Birju Maharaj and Kumudini Lakhia provide a perspective for viewing Kathak in its many-faceted forms.
The footwork, the nritta pieces like tode, tukde, parans, the improvisational aspects and the simple graceful gats and gat-nikas, the illusion of miniature paintings coming to life and many other aspects are vividly captured in this most comprehensive and thoroughl;y researched book on Kathak. It has an attractive section on the contemporary practitioners ranging from Birju Maharaj, Sitara Devi, Damayanti Joshi, Kumudini Lakhia, Rohini Bhate, Roshan Kumari, Gopi Krishna, Durgalal to the young exponents who carry forward the tradition in the present times. Lavishly illustrated with colour and black and white photographs and designed by Dolly Sahiar the many-splendoured beauty of Kathak is captured in this volume, which should appeal to the cognoscenti and lay readers alike.
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