Lucknow Gharana of Kathak: A glimpse into its history & the present

Did you know that the Spanish flamenco dance form is said to have derived its base from Kathak?

One of the substantial genres of traditional Indian classical dance, Kathak is regarded to have originated from the travelling bards of North India referred as kathakars or storytellers. Along the lines of ancient Greek theatre, these kathakars wandered around and communicated legendary stories through their music, dance and songs. Legends say, the earliest kathaks to set foot in Lucknow were Maharaj Iswari Prasad Misra and his brothers, who brought the Natwari Nritya style to the city.

Kathak is put under three gharanas- Lucknow is one of the main gharanas while the others are Varanasi, Jaipur and Raigarh.This dance form brought stories from the Puranas and other popular literature, including Ramayana, Braj Sahitya and Geet Govinda to the forefront. The main protagonists of these stories have a historical significance in Kathak and stories say, the rise of Rasleela in the 15th century was a primary turning point for the origin of this artform.

The Inception of Kathak & Now!

It has been said that in Lucknow, Kathak developed mainly in the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah where artists who had migrated from Delhi used to perform here. It was during Wajid Ali Shah's rule that Lucknow gained maturity and perfection in this dance style. Shah was a trained kathak dancer and he became a disciple of Pandit Durga Prasad and from then on, it was proliferated as a blend of nritya and abhianay.

It is believed that Kalka Prasad and Bindadin Maharaj were the choreographers of the present form of Lucknow Gharana, which is also popularly famed as Kalka-Bindadin Gharana.

The Lucknow gharana of Kathak dance is hallmarked by smooth graceful movements, precision and delicacy and this dance type is paired with classical music like thumri, dadra and horis. At present, Pandit Birju Maharaj, son of Pandit Achchan Maharaj, is hailed as the pioneer for the initial Lucknow gharana styles.

Knock Knock

Kathak has not only influenced the residents of India but has peaked in foreign soils as well, all across the globe. On a similar note, the Spanish flamenco dance form is said to have derived its base, greatly inspired by Kathak dance styles. Stemming from an Indo-Islamic heritage, Kathak is a classic example of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb and if you want to try your hands at this performing art here in Lucknow, Bhatkhande academy is where you should be at.

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