The word “kathak” translates as “storyteller” and originates from the word “katha”, which means “story”. This art was born in North India when a number of communities of storytellers who used to delight their audience with mythological tales, legends and folkatles, started to introduce music, mime and dance into their performances. One of these communities was that of the Kathaks, who were both dancers and musicians. As time passed and the cult of Vishnu grew increasingly more popular, hymns, lyrical compositions and sacred songs dedicated to this god were produced. Krishna (the reincarnation of Vishnu), the god who inspired the art of Kathak, is very often associated with the attribute named “Natvara”, the divine dancer. Dancers often choose to perform episodes – to be found in the Gita Govinda in particular – that narrate the love of Krishna and the lovely shepherdess, Radha.
The sovereign of the Moghul and Hindu courts introduced kathak in their courts, which induced a number of changes in the dance style. Indeed the originally purely devotional dance became a form of entertainment, developed new elements and gave an increasingly greater part to technical virtuosity and dance alone.
Kathak is often said to have inspired flamenco, as it is believed that gypsies from the Thar Desert brought this art with them when they travelled across Asia and Europe and as far as Spain.
Nowadays, the technique of Kathak is characterised by a complex language involving frappés (tatkar), quick rhythmical footwork articulated on a cycle of beats, fast spins (bhramaris), an expressional lexicon (abhinaya), and hand gestures (mudras). With a great emphasis being laid on rhythm, the dance is constructed on rhythmical words (bols), which are accompanied by music played on the tabla or the pakhawaj and recited by the dancer before he or she performs them through frappés that are brought out by the 200 bells he or she wears around his/her ankles. The performance, therefore, is a virtuoso dialogue between the percussionist and the dancer.
There are three schools, or gharanas, of Kakhak (Jaipur, Lucknow, and Benares) where the art developped and the techniques became fixed as the interpretative and rhythmical aspects of the dance were taken to a very high level of refinement.
Bollywood dance is a colourful and lively dance form! Bollywood - the contraction of “Hollywood” and “Bombay” - is the name given in India to the Hindi-language film industry.
The films it produces conflate modernity and tradition to create its famous great sagas of drama and love.
The choreographic style created in those films is a blend of classical Indian dances (mostly Bharatanatyam and Kathak) and of more contemporary dances (salsa, modern jazz, hip hop or belly dance).