By Margaret E. Walker
Kathak, the classical dance of North India, combines virtuosic footwork and fabulous spins with sophisticated pantomime and delicate gestures. As an international perform and one among India's cultural markers, kathak dance is frequently awarded as inheritor to an historical Hindu devotional culture during which males referred to as Kathakas danced and informed tales in temples. The dance's repertoire and stream vocabulary, in spite of the fact that, inform a special tale of syncretic origins and hybrid historical past - it's a dance that's either Muslim and Hindu, either devotional and exciting, and either female and male. Kathak's a number of roots are available in rural theatre, embodied rhythmic repertoire, and courtesan functionality perform, and its historical past is inextricable from the heritage of empire, colonialism, and independence in India.Through an research either huge and deep of fundamental and secondary resources, ethnography, iconography and present functionality perform, Margaret Walker undertakes a serious method of the heritage of kathak dance and offers new info approximately hereditary acting artists, gendered contexts and practices, and postcolonial cultural reclamation. The account that emerges areas kathak and the Kathaks firmly into the residing context of North Indian acting arts.
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Additional resources for India's Kathak Dance in Historical Perspective
Srivastava has taken the search even further, finding kathaka and other cognates in a number of sources including Jain lexicons, the Ganapātha, the Ganeśa Purāṇa, Amarakośai and the Śabdakalpadruma (2008: 23–6). Yet, one can only reliably conclude from her search that there were people in pre-Mughal India who related narratives, and the Sanskrit word ‘kathakā’ was used to refer to them. Scholarly evidence linking kathak or the Kathaks to Vedic India or even just India before the thirteenth century is therefore spurious at best, and is arguably derived from twentieth-century politics and the search for ancient origins rather than any historical facts.
4 The root word of E ¬E is E ¬ (kath): ‘to tell, relate, narrate, report, explain, describe’ (Monier-Williams 1993 : 247). In Hindi, the word is similarly translated ‘to tell, to recite, to expound’ and also ‘to compose (oral poetry)’ (MacGregor 1993: 162). This root gives rise to a host of derivatives – kathan: a narrative, kathit: said or uttered, kathā: story, tale or legend – and is prominent in the names of other performing arts such as kathakali, the dance-drama of Kerala, kathputlī puppetry from Rajasthan, and of course kathāvacan.
The term evokes, not a community of storytellers recounting sacred epics, but a group whose profession is more reminiscent of bards, satirists or praise-singers. The other question of translation that emerges is more straightforward. Assuming for the sake of argument that the E ¬E (kathak) spelling is correct or that the difference does not matter, one finds the following definitions and translations: kathak, and H. m. Narrator, relater, reciter; one who publicly reads and expounds the Purāṇas; – a professional story-teller; a kind of singer or bard; chief actor; a dancing boy (Platts, Dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi and English, 1997 : 813).
India's Kathak Dance in Historical Perspective by Margaret E. Walker