India's Kathak Dance in Historical Perspective
Kathak, the classical dance of North India, combines virtuosic footwork and dazzling spins with subtle pantomime and soft gestures. As a global practice and one of India's cultural markers, kathak dance is often presented as heir to an ancient Hindu devotional tradition in which men called Kathakas danced and told stories in temples. The dance's repertoire and movement vocabulary, however, tell a different story of syncretic origins and hybrid history - it is a dance that is both Muslim and Hindu, both devotional and entertaining, and both male and female. Kathak's multiple roots can be found in rural theatre, embodied rhythmic repertoire, and courtesan performance practice, and its history is inextricable from the history of empire, colonialism, and independence in India. Through an analysis both broad and deep of primary and secondary sources, ethnography, iconography and current performance practice, Margaret Walker undertakes a critical approach to the history of kathak dance and presents new data about hereditary performing artists, gendered contexts and practices, and postcolonial cultural reclamation. The account that emerges places kathak and the Kathaks firmly into the living context of North Indian performing arts.
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1 Kathak Dance Today
2 Colonialism and Nationalism
3 The Kathaks
4 In Search of an Ancient Kathak
5 Voices from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
6 Hereditary Performing Communities in North India
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accompanists Achhan Maharaj ancient Awadh Benares Bhands Bindadin birādarī Birju Maharaj Brahmans British caste census Chakravorty Chapter Chatterjee choreographic colonial connection contemporary context court courtesans cultural dance called kathak dance’s dancing girls Delhi descriptions Devi Dharis documentation Durga female dancers female performers footwork genres gestures gharānedār gurūs hereditary performers Hindu identified India Indian dance Jaipur Jaipur Kathaks Joshi kathak dance Kathavacaks kathāvacan Khan Khokar Kothari Krishna Lucknow gharānā Lucknow Kathaks Mahābhārata Maʻdan al-Mūsīqī Mirasis Misra movements Mughal music and dance musicians and dancers Muslim Narayan narrative Natavar nautch nautch girls nineteenth century non-hereditary North Indian Orientalist Pallabi Chakravorty patronage performance practice performing artists performing arts performing groups Prasad Rajasthan Rās Līlā repertoire revival rhythmic Saṅgītaratnākara Sanskrit sāraṅgī Sarmāya-yi Iśrat scholars Shambhu Maharaj Sharar Singh singing storytellers style tablā tawā’ifs temple today’s kathak tradition treatises Tripurari twentieth century Uttar Pradesh Vidyarthi Wajid Ali Shah