Hi, introduction of kathalk,a traditional dance style of india.


What is kathalk?

it is a classical dance in india, which meaning the katha(story). the story of wars details describe to common people those who not present in wars. some persons from background narrates the story, and dancers are performed the dance.so its style are reflect the wars style of a army in ancient periods.

total dance performs body language of a soldiers, and his dress style, and the ornaments like ghungrus(the ankle bell put on legs to make a common step with others), belt in middle to kept arms, bala (ring on hand) for extra power, colors in eye and face, as soldiers are used. a body language and war style of soldiers always reflect in dance.

a photo of warriors, in kolkata museums

kathak dance is the culture of royal family of north india, so other members men and women of royal family practice it by master, also different war situation is describe as demo, they not used any arms but dress and instrument are used as in wars. when it performs to common people by royal dancer, some social facts, religious facts also placed my royal dancer or royal soldiers. but style are the same. the purpose of this story only to entertainment if no war take place.

This kathak style is less effective in mughal era, because this time war style is changed, Mughal are used cannon, and horse riding force, kathak war style totally depends on ground force. but master from hindu royal family still continue there style inside there family to save this culture. in British era monarch family totally abolish, so master start learning this to common people to earn income. presently we found three different style of katkak in northern india, are so call , kathak in lucknow, and kathak in rajastan and others similar type famous dance chhau dance in west bengal and orisha.

what type of kathak is available in india?

mainly three type of kathak dance now available:

1.chakkars, 2.torahs, 3. tihais


This dance is mainly the character of krishana and arjuna, the character in mahabharata and there famous war style chakrabyhu, which is very famous style in mahabharata. but common story are available in this

Kathak has profound leg movements enhanced by ghungrus (foots bells) enhanced and beautified by the flowing attire. The firm movements is determined by your physical and mental well being. It is said that, foot has nerve endings of all the internal body organs. Chakkar presses on to the acupressure points on the feet which helps in maintaining a balance within the body.


Toah is a hibru words means law. toras is the fighting technic using elephants. it a technic to cover enemy by five elephants. toras techniques also states how to protects elephant from enemies.


The word Tinais meaning mountain, this is the process of fighting in mountain hills.in this process long step, rapid hand movement less body turn reflect restricted area war style.

what type of kathak is presently available in india?

Presently two type of kathak available in india 1.joypur gharana(tradition) 2. lucknow gharana(tradition).

how many parts in kathak dance?

The total dance is devided in to nine stage, the dancer and narrator only performs in nine stage to there full story.  Navarasas( the nine emotions )which are: 1) hasaya (happiness); 2) shoka (sorrow); 3) krodha(anger); 4) karuna (compassion); 5) bhibatsa (disgust); 6) adhbhuta (wonder); 7) bhaya (fear); 8) viram (courage); and 9) shanta(serenity).

This nine navaras ( nine expression) is a training skill of a good worriers.

style of kathak :

kthak will perform: teental (16 beats), jhaptal (10 beats), dhamar (14 beats), ashtamangal (11 beats) are being the most commonly performed .

Dancers begin with the vilambit laya (slow introduction) , proceeding to perform thaataamad and paran aamad follow, after which the dancer moves to drut laya (fast introduction ). It is in the drut laya(fast stage) that the full expanse of the virtuosity of Kathak can be displayed. However, dancers of the Jaipur tradition are immensely skilled in presenting great vistaar or elaboration of dance in the vilambit laya as well as joypur presence of hot area.

what is kathak dance compositions ?

tukras:A shorter version of the Kathak dance is known as ‘Tukra.

tukras also known small group of army.

paran: main music given by instruments to follow dancer.its means that extra oxigen given to the worriers by master direction.

parmelu: it is a natural sound added in dance like, birds sound, strut of peacock or sound of tiger, or some animal also. permelu may meaningful to worriers by secret code, or it is as simple as a fear atmosphere to Warfield. but when other story narrats by dancer it is as simple as to express the original situation.

gatnikas: it is the different position dancer pose like blow of flute, taking a pot, then different graceful walk dancer performed. this style is used to active a character in common demo showing situation, but it is a effective war skill to a worriers to continue do his task in one hand when other hand busy with lifting something, drinking water, etc

gatbhav: it is expression of artiest of different facts(gats). the story narrator from background narrates the story but expression of that gats(facts) presents in prefixed style(bhav).in war skill it is mention that all jobs rather then fighting, worriers are so trained to do i trained manner. like marching, like hoisting flag, like bitting a drum, so a common trained style should follow the worriers.

Jugalbandi: it is the same facts expresses by two artiest or more. so between them adjustment is very important. some story where it shows the lot of character can express only by two artiest by limited body movement, possible only by prefixed style .some times a friendly competition between the percussion player and the dancer is also a popular . as a war style it is a style to fight against enemy by couple or more without harm, disturb each other.

urdha hasta chakra: The name Chakrasana comes from the Sanskrit words चक्र chakra, “wheel”, and आसन āsana, “posture” or “seat”. The name Urdhva Dhanurasana comes from the Sanskrit urdhva ऊर्ध्व, upwards, and dhanura धनु, a bow (for shooting arrows).

The meaning of that , the war style of through arrow with hand up position and other technic which is used in defense of of that particular style. also have maddha(middle) hasta chakra, that is the shooting arrow style when hand in chest position and its defense technics.

jal bhramari: bhamri is the bee in Sanskrit. jal bhamri is the war style follow in water. actually it is the special technic follow in water war to attack enemy like a bee. so this technic are show in kathak in there own style.

  • Tāl: Rhythmic time-cycle that repeats again and again.

it is true that it is required a full dance with tal in sequence so a fight can take place by soldiers. tal also fixed by superior by music instrument but in war always by master. master observed from out side and fixed there frequency of fight.

  • Mātrā: Beat, Unit of measuring duration of a Tāl.

matra: In kathak, a Matra is a beat, the smallest rhythmic sub-unit of a tala – the musical meter. It is one of the three levels of structure for tala along with Vibhag (measure) and Avartan (cycle). The significance of beats depends on their occurrence in a cycle. the pitch, means if it is required fast or slow, and how much energy required for that particular task determined by leaders or master.

  • Vibhāg: Division or section of a Tāl.

Vibhag is a term used to describe divisions within the taal. For example, ek taal(one) is a 12-count cycle that is divided with 6 vibhags to make counts of 2 between other vibhags. Theka is a term used to describe the sound made by the tabla(drum like instrument) for given taals.

  • Tāli: literally: ‘clap’. Used to show the accented beat in a Tāl.

Taali:  is also called Bhari. Taali means clapping. Besides “Sum”, each taal has beats where you clap. Example, in Teen Taal, you clap on the 1, 5 and 13th matras.

it is the system of war arts where master observed the progress of fight and there predetermined instruction is given by claping, a small sound, so that enemy not understand it. taali means you hit hard.

  • Khāli: literally: ‘empty’. A blank beat, negative accent in a Tāl.

In khali there will be action but that present situation it is not taken. some action no need to take.

  • Tablā: A percussion instrument often used as an accompaniment to Kathak dance. It is comprised of two drums. 

tabla is a instrument of drum bitten by hand but in incent era present type of tabla not availabe. in every army music instrument is used to make inspired the soldiers. in kathak dance ,a demo of war tabla is used.

  • Bol: A Bol is a sound or syllable. Helps identify and recite rhythms.

This is derived from the word “bolna” which means “to speak”. … These relate to the manner in which the bol relates to the technique of the tabla. in ancent time, solders are so trained that they only lessen the lissen the music from ear, follow the master and enemy by eyes, and there body and legs , and hand are busy with fights.

  • Thekā: 

Theka  literally means “support, prop”The term also refers to a musical composition in kathak for percussion instruments that establish a rhythm (Chanda), beats (Matras) and the metric cycle of beats (Tala) in a performance.

this is depends on the master, when soldiers are tired he used theka, little different music, only music in little different ray them, so that soldiers should understand more support will come and his task will divided with more persons, or little rest for him.this will depends which theka is playing. if it is jhaptaal theka,then he may take rest, if it is daddra theka then he should fight with more people. soldiers should memories theka my heart, so theka is most important in kathak.

  • ekā is the Tablā bol for a Tāl that repeats again and again

From the Sanskrit word meaning ‘single,, EKA explores the unification of three energies; demonstrating the immense power created when they collide and merge to form a single entity.

eka is a technic to fight with enemies by single soldiers.in this technic soldiers should used maximum energy, maximum speed.

  • Ᾱvartan: One cycle of a Tāl.

this technique is used when soldiers are EKA, means single. this technique is different from others because of less used power and maximum effect to enemies. to fight circle around the enemy.

  • Sam: The first beat of a Tāl 

sam means evening, in other words almost end of the day, beat is little fast so that it is understand by soldiers that his work is finished and new style of work will come.so he give his maximum output before stop.in sam techniques he used his maximum skills before finished.

  • Tatkār: Dance syllables produced from stomping. Basic footwork  for a Tāl.

Tat means costal area, this type of style effective in costal war,

  • Kavitt: the meaning of kavitt is dark time. this is the skill to fight in dark time restricted visibility.
  • Lari: A chain of footwork patterns, ends with a tihāi.

lari is bir ghata( war story). lari is express to others persons who not present in war. it is composition of foot work only. when from background narrates about any worriers story, the dancer performs it by footwork only.

  • Laya: means time. it may be rest time, or food time. or finishes of war for that day. laya may two type, one is maddha laya(middle), other is vilambit laya means later rest or final rest.


Other dance style i have to mention in this topic is the chhau dance performed in india besically in eastern part of india, dance style is totally different, and there are no link between kathak and chhau dance. but it is a popular style people still remember, they did not forget there skills.

CHHAU dance:

chhau meanse mask, the sanskrit word chaya means shadow, image or mask. the words comes from sanskrit. in oriya language Chhauni  means military camp/ armor/stealth.

so it was the ancent traditional gorila war style performed now a day as a dance. it was so popular and effective style people still remember.

i dont learn this style of dance so i cant explain details techniques of this dance but some community in bengal and orisha still maintain there techniques.

Dear reader, i was confused to write this article, because i think dance is a art, it is a expression of human beings to make his/her happiness through dance. Every artist and master, and there books there techniques i respect most. i was confused because in my blog there are a link with dance to war skill. it is confused me to wright this blog from long time. at last i take my decision so that artist should found grass root of this dance style. And they should prepared them shelf, and reflect effectiveness of there dance. our old war skill is not fit in modern war style, but people should learn , to observed war style. they can developed good style which will fit for modern days. people from ancient time they practice these style because it was very effective and advance war style of that era.so they practice it from generation to generation.

The other reason to write this blog , lot of people try to mixed different dance style in kathak. so called modern kathak to make it beautiful presentation. they should know this is war style cant be change with out scientific reasion. it is our duty to familiar with our ancient style, and need to delivered to our next generation with same skill, same techniques.

Lots of people try to compare to mujra with kathak, they also compared this is mixed form with mughal and hindu culture. mughal come from different background, there war style, arms and ammunition is totally different. so there war style also be different.

i hope more research will conduct in future to understand our culture, our war system , our training skill, our thinking. i think lot of miss link in total process, they can return back pure kathak style.

Published by kousik pattanayak

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