Kathak, derived from the word katha, meaning story, is one of the eight major classical dance styles of India. It was originally performed in temples and gradually moved to the court over time. Artists wear up to two hundred ghunghroos, or bells, around their ankles, which produce a rhythmic, pleasing sound.
Kathak incorporates two distinctive areas, namely the pure dance element, called nritta, and the combination of that dance with an artistic interpretive element, which also includes mime, called nritya. In order to achieve the highest level of artistic beauty, both a dancer's body movements and abhinaya must be perfectly coordinated.
Students in India and Nepal usually begin taking practical and theoretical classes at the age of seven and continue for 10-15 years to become proficient. They must also pass a set of rigid written and practical examinations in order to graduate and become certified in Kathak dance.
There are three distinct gharanas, or schools, of Kathak. Dancers from Jaipur are renowned for their lightning fast chakkars, or spins, as well as for their rigorous footwork, power, and stamina. This branch of Kathak was heavily influenced by the Mughal rule of India. The style, language, costumes, content, and execution of the dance were all transformed.
The Lucknow school favors a slower, more delicate approach to the dance and considers facial expression and subtle movements to be of the highest import.
The Benares gharana concentrates more on tabla bols and gives more attention to tatkar. Today, many artists have created a fusion of the three styles in order to keep the dance form current and popular with new audiences.
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