An ode to Kathak
It was a festival of Kathak, as students of Kathak Kalakriti - a private dance school - celebrated their annual show recently.
At least 50 students - from 6-40 years, presented various aspects of the dance leaving the audience spellbound. The hall of the Poorva Sanskritik Kendra, resonated with the sound of ghungroos.
The school has been established by Kathak exponent Shweta Mishra, who has trained under Ruby Mishra (Pt. Jai Kishan Maharaj’s wife) and later, Pt. Jai Kishan Maharaj himself (son of legendary Pt. Birju Maharaj). Shweta is involved in theatre work as well.
About her institute, she says, “Kathak Kalakriti has been founded with a belief that dance is not just a hobby but helps to shape the personality of an individual as well. You learn about your history, culture and traditions and learn to respect them.”
“Children from well-off families are able to afford expensive classical dance training, but very often, we see budding talents in the impoverished sections as well.
Therefore, we provide Kathak training to some children selected from NGOs too. They all danced to perfection in the annual festival and I am proud of all my students who put in so much hardwork.”†
To start with, students in the age group of 6 to 9 years performed the customary invocation. They rendered a ‘Shiv Vandana’ which elucidated on the characteristics of lord Shiva. The little dancers, with their exquisite moves, won the hearts of everyone present.
Then, students in the ‘middle category’ performed ‘Tarana’ - a choreographic genre in which both technical and expressive aspects of the dance are emphasized. It was rendered in madhya lay and dhrut lay in teen taal.
† These were followed by senior students who performed ‘Shuddha nritya,’ i.e, pure dance. Herein, they rendered the finer nuances of Kathak like Aamad - styles of entry on stage; Gat - styles of walking; Kavitt - dance set to a poem; Paran - using bol from pakhawaj, Parmelu - compositions bas≠ed on sounds from nature like chirping of birds, strut of a pea≠cock and leaves rustling.
Finally came the unique ‘Nupur gunjan’ - a piece wherein 18 students showed how the ghungroo can produce different sounds. “It was a hit with the audience,” says Shweta. †
The chief guests - Pakhawaj player Rishi Shankar Upadhyay and Kathak exponent Sakshi Kumar, who also performed to the delight of the students - expressed, “Kathak is a part of our cultural heritage - practiced by temple dancers of yore and passed on through centuries. Those who get to learn it are lucky indeed. Continue practicing this art and make a name for yourself in this field.”