All You Need To Know About Kathak Before Joining a Class

What inspired you to take up learning the ancient dance form – Kathak? For most Kathak enthusiasts, the reason is that they get obsessed with the art of storytelling through this ancient and ever-so-graceful dance form. Although when you start learning any art form, you understand everything gradually. But updating yourself with the available information can feed your curious mind and intensify your interest in learning this art form. So, if you have made up your mind to learn Kathak, doing a little research before joining a class is wise. This little effort from your end will make you feel confident in the class, whether online or offline. 

Keep reading to know all about one of the most graceful dance forms, Kathak.

Origin and the History of Kathak

It is believed that Kathak was crafted by travelling bards or storytellers of North India who used to convey stories through dance in the temples of North India. The earliest evidence of this dance form dates back to 400 BCE and is mentioned in one of the most ancient scriptures, the Natyashastra. Although it has elements of both the Hindu and the Islamic culture (because of the Mughal invasion of India), Kathak was mainly inspired by Vaishnavism (a branch of Hinduism that believed in Lord Vishnu as the ultimate reality). This is why most of the Kathak performances conveyed stories from ancient epics- the Mahabharata and Ramayana. It is also inspired by the Puranas and the sacred, romantic elements of Krishna-Radha mythology.

The three famous Gharanas of Kathak are- Lucknow, Jaipur, and Varanasi, The Jaipur Gharana, emphasises more footwork. In contrast, the Lucknow and the Varanasi Gharana emphasizes more on facial expressions. 

Some Unsaid Protocols 

‘Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new’- Og Mandino.

If you have planned to seek guidance from an expert to begin your Kathak learning journey, having an idea of these unsaid protocols can make your learning beautiful and fun.

As per the ‘Guru-Shishya Parampara’ or the Teacher-Disciple tradition of India, students are supposed to follow their teacher wholeheartedly. After choosing a Guru for yourself wisely, it is better to begin your journey with a clean slate, believing in the capabilities of your teacher. The best way to progress through the stages of learning Kathak is to surrender yourself to the art form and your teacher. With advancements in technology, online dance classes can help you connect with native experts of any dance form. 

The Divinity of the Dance Form

Kathak was usually performed in temples. The poise and technique associated with the art form elevated its status and expanded its reach overseas. The stories or ‘Kathas’ conveyed with the dance form were usually derived from Indian mythology or ancient epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana. An art of self-expression, Kathakars have always dedicated this art to the divine. The gestures are supposed to be inspired by nature, and most movements are committed to establishing a connection with the Universe’s five elements (Space, Air, Water, Fire, and Earth). One way the Kathakar connects with God and Mother Nature is by ending the performance with ‘Namaskar’. It begins with tapping the feet, which means that the Kathakar is seeking permission from Mother Earth to perform the Namaskar.

Values to Inculcate to Learn This Traditional Dance Form

Learning anything requires values like dedication, discipline, gratitude, and sincerity. Kathak also requires the same values. Mastering the complex techniques and the subtle art of expression that are the main ingredients of a Kathak performance requires rigorous practice. It is one dance form that requires guidance from an experienced maestro. Only a Kathak Guru can motivate you by understanding your weak points and recognising your strengths. Trusting and respecting your teacher will help you connect with the aesthetics of the traditional dance form. Learning the graceful art of Kathak requires a lot of patience, especially in the initial stages. Being patient and consistent is the key to mastering the art.

Once you have started practising Kathak, you must never forget to do the Bhumi Pranam before initiating your practice or performance. You must always take the blessing of your teacher before the class. You must always practice or perform barefoot. 

Things to Keep in Mind While Joining a Kathak Class

Whether you are planning to take online or offline classes, you must ensure that you have chosen your teacher wisely. You must ensure that the teacher has decent teaching and performing experience. You must understand the teaching methodology of the person before finalising them as your teacher. You must evaluate the Gharana in which the teacher is trained and if you wish to train in the same Gharana. You must also know about the mentors of the teacher to ensure that you are choosing the right person to guide you throughout your Kathak learning journey. 

Times have changed! Technology and the internet have helped learners overcome many learning restrictions. Online learning has become a trend, and happy students are witness to the fact that it is as effective as its offline counterpart. You can now access a pool of experienced teachers from around the globe from the comfort of your home. You can optimise your free time by choosing your comfortable time slot to pursue your passion through online Kathak classes. Have a happy learning experience! Read more.