Hindi Language Blog

Kathak Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 in Hindi Language

Kathak (कथक) is one of the eight officially sanctioned classical  (शास्त्रीय – Shastriya) dance forms of India. Kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word katha (कथा) meaning story, and katthaka in Sanskrit means he who tells a story, or to do with stories. In ancient time,  the professional story-tellers called Kathakas used to tell story from Indian epic or mythology with some element of dance.  These story-tellers or Kathakas find mention the the literary references (संदर्भ – Sandarbh) from the 3rd and 4th centuries BCE. As the tradition of Kathakas were hereditary, and dances passed from generation (पीढ़ी – Peedi) to generation thus preserving it till present times.  It is the most popular dance (नृत्य – Nritya) from India and could be seen in many popular cultures across the world.

There are two major variant of Kathak called Pure Dance (नृत्त – Nritta) and Expressive Dance (नृत्य – Nritya). The first variant which is also called conventional Kathak progresses in its tempo from slow to fast which end in a dramatic climax. Often the performer will engage in rhythmic play with the time-cycle, for example performing composition mainly of footwork to the rhythm on the percussion. Whereas in Expressive Dance (Nritya), the performer has to express feeling through their dance postures. The latter one is more suited to smaller audience (दर्शक – Darshak) such as courts which allow audience to see the performer facial expressions (अभिव्यक्ति – Abhivyakti) conveying a particular feeling (भावना – Bhaavna). In both form, the music is normally provided by tabla and sitar setting the necessary rhythm on the percussion and composition respectively.

Costumes, jewelry, music, and language play an important role (भूमिका – Bhumika) in this dance. The costumes (पोशाक – Poshaak) and jewellery (आभूषण – Aabhushan) for female performer consists of a sari normally worn or tied up to allow greater freedom of movement during dance whereas, traditional costume for men is to be bare-chested and below the waist is the dhoti or kurta-churidar.

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About the Author: Nitin Kumar

Nitin Kumar is a native Hindi speaker from New Delhi, India. His education qualification include Masters in Robotics and Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. Currently, he is working in the Research and Development in Robotics in Germany. He is avid language learner with varied level of proficiency in English, German, Spanish, and Japanese. He wish to learn French one day. His passion for languages motivated him to share his mother tongue, Hindi, and culture and traditions associated with its speakers. He has been working with Transparent Language since 2010 and has written over 430 blogs on various topics on Hindi language and India, its culture and traditions. He is also the Administrator for Hindi Facebook page which has a community of over 330,000 members.


  1. Surya:

    Kathak is one of the loveliest forms of Indian dance. Pali Chandra is an excellent dancer of both classical and contemporary Kathak, and even got the Lachhu Maharaj Award. She’s giving online classes on the basics of Kathak if anyone wants to take a look. You can find it here: https://www.classle.net/#!/online/course/basics-kathak/coursehome/