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Kathak – Indian Classical Dance (History, Instruments) l www.insightdaily.in


Kathak is a prominent ancient Indian classical dance and is thought to have started from the wandering bards of North India known as Kathakars, meaning storytellers. These Kathakars travelled and conveyed stories by means of music, dance and songs akin to the early Greek theatre.

Aspirants can find information on the structure and other important details related to the IAS Exam, in the linked article.

The class created amid the Bhakti development, the pattern of mystical commitment which advanced in medieval Hinduism. The Kathakars convey stories through rhythmic foot movements, hand gestures, facial appearances and eye work. This performing workmanship that consolidates legends from antiquated folklore and awesome Indian stories, particularly from the life of Lord Krishna turned out to be very famous in the courts of North Indian kingdoms. Three particular types of this sort are three gharanas (schools), which generally vary in accentuation given to footwork as opposed to acting, are more acclaimed in particular, the Jaipur Gharana, the Benaras Gharana and the Lucknow Gharana.

History and Evolution

The foundations of Kathak are rooted in Natya Shastra, an ancient Sanskrit text written by Bharata Muni.


The three chief sections of a Kathak dance are:

Invocation: where the artist offers his/her prayer or salutation to his/her guru and to god. In the case of Hindu performances, the artist uses mudras (hand gestures) for the same. For Muslim occasions, the artist gives a ‘salami’.

Nritta: pure dance portrayed by the artist. He/she starts with slow and graceful movements of the neck, wrists and eyebrows. This is followed by fast sequences according to ‘bols’. A bol is a short sequence of rhythmic pattern. Here the artist displays energetic footwork also.

Nritya: here the artist showcases a story or theme through gestures, expressions and slow body movements accompanied by vocal and instrumental music.

As Kathak is prevalent both in Hindu and Muslim people group the outfits of this moving frame are made in accordance with customs of the separate groups.

Read about classical dance forms of India in the linked articles below:

Instruments and Music

A Kathak execution may incorporate twelve traditional instruments depending more on the impact and profundity required for a specific execution. However, a few instruments are commonly utilized as a part of a Kathak execution like the tabla that blends well with the musical foot developments of the artist and regularly emulates the sound of such footwork developments or the other way around to make a splendid jugalbandi. A manjira that is hand cymbals and sarangi or harmonium are additionally utilized frequently.

Multiple Choice Question (MCQ)

Consider the following Statements

  1. Bharatanatyam expresses spiritual ideas pertaining to Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Shaivism. 
  2. The three important features of Bharatanatyam are Nritta, Natya and Nritya.
  3. Kuchipudi was developed as a form of worship to Hindu God, Krishna.
  4. Kathak execution may incorporate twelve traditional instruments depending more on the impact and profundity required for a specific execution.

Which of the following options are true?

A) Only 1 and 2 are true

B) Only 2 and 4 are true

C) Only 1, 2 and 4 are true

D) All the above 4 statements are true.

Answer: D

Candidates can find the general pattern of the UPSC Civil Service Exam by visiting the IAS Syllabus page.

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