About the Art Form

Kathak is one of the major genres of Indian classical dance and has its roots from ancient Sanskrit texts. Katha means story, and so a Kathaka is a storyteller and Kathak is the art of storytelling. It originated in Northern India in the temples and during the Bhakti movement, the dance form moved out of the temples to the common folk. The Kathakas, using dance and music, communicated stories from folklore, great epics and mythology to the people. For historical reasons, the artists practicing Kathak found patronage in three different regions (Lucknow, Jaipur and Benares) and subsequently, differences appeared in all three versions of Kathak forming three separate schools/Gharanas of Kathak. During the Mughal period, Persian influences such as fast footwork, Sufi-like spins were introduced into the dance form along with stylized gestures and changes in costumes. Today, it is a graceful dance form that combines poetry with rhythmic movement. The music of Kathak usually follows the traditional classical style of music from Northern India, which is the Hindustani style. Some of the most common instruments used in this art form are the Tabla, the Harmonium, the Sitar and the Sarangi.

Kathak is also comprised of two main aspects – Nritta, or technical dance, with a sophisticated vocabulary used to build intricate combinations and rhythmic patterns that does not convey any specific meaning; and Nritya, or expressive dance, using facial expressions, highly stylized gestures, postures and body language to convey complex emotions. The basic stance of a Kathaka is a standing form where the legs and torso are straight.

At Silambam, the students are imparted Kathak training following traditions from the Lucknow Gharana. They learn Kathak theory as well as the cultural history behind the traditions. Emphasis is placed on a gradual learning of techniques to build endurance and ability of fast footwork and spins combined with delicate, subtle movements of the wrist, hands and body.


Director: Kalpana Subbarao

Teaching Assistant: Neha Shah


Beginner 1

Introduction to Kathak – Basic Kathak stance, introduction to general theory, introduction to Teen Taal (16 beats) theory, Padhant, footwork (basic Tatkaar practice and a variation with Tihaai), introduction to spin (chakkar) and introduction to movements. Learning of Guru Vandana

Beginner 2 Prerequisite: Beginner 1

Adding on to B1, Tatkaar variations of increasing complexity and speed, movements of increasing complexity, creating small combination of movements, introduction to small Tukdas/Todas with the Padhant.

Intermediate 1 Prerequisite: Beginner 2

Adding on to B2, introduction to Salaami, Thaath, Aamad, Kavitt and Ladi with learning of a Vandana. Working on more complex movements and Tukdas.

Intermediate 2 Prerequisite: Intermediate 1

Adding on to I1, introduction to Gat Nikas, Gat Bhav, Ginti and concepts of Bhaav (Thumri versus Ghazal). Learning of a Tarana and Thumri.

Intermediate 3 Prerequisite: Intermediate 2

Adding on to I2, putting together a Vilambit+Madhya Lay repertoire. Learning of a Ghazal.

Advanced Prequisite: Intermediate 3

Jhaap Taal (10 beats)