A Journey into the Indian Classical Dance

A Journey into the Indian Classical Dance

A Journey into the Indian Classical DanceBhartyia Vidya Bhavan in Kensington hosted a classical Indian dance performance, Kathak, by the debutant Neesha Radia with her Guru ‘Padamshri’ Partap Pawar.

Kathak is essentially a dance-form to narrate a story, Katha, which traditionally the priests used to narrate to their congregations in temples but the art of this scriptural story-telling or Katha developed into another art form of dance, Kathak. Each Hindu God/Goddess with its own particular attributes, with different aspects of the one infinite Brahm, which is the Hindu Omnipresent God, the ultimate energy source or the uncaused Cause but which for the purposes of our Nature has 33 different aspects according to the Hindu Vedas, thus making that one ultimate Being multifaceted and pluralistic for our purposes.

Likewise there are several ways to attain the grace of that absolute Brahm and for ancient Hindus, music touched the right chords of ones heart through which the ancient Hindus found a connection to Brahm. Music was recorded first in the Saam Veda, possibly in the 3rd/4th millennium BCE, which the Brahmins in their oral tradition used to recite the Mantras of the even much older Rig Veda according to each Mantra’s particular mitre. Inevitably from music the accompanying dance-form must have followed suite.

Neesha Radia in her debut performance started this ancient tradition of Kathak by invoking prayers to the Gods through three dances, first to Lord Ganesh for wisdom, then to Lord Krishna for grace and finally to the Goddess Durga for prowess or shakti.

The second part of her performance leapfrogged to the middle of the last millennium when Nritta, was developed for the Maharajahs’ courts, with fusion from the Persian influence of the Mughal period. This is normally the Bollywood dance routine performed in various rhythms, e.g., the Tabla Taals using a 7, 6, 10, 14, or 16 beat cycles.

The third part of the performance took us back in time again to the 2nd century BCE when Rishi Bharata wrote the Natyashastra. This dance-form is called the Nritya, which narrates the expressive moods of love called shringar (as in the art of beautifying). Neesha performed three dances, the first one showing the excitement of preparing to meet one’s beloved, second dance to depict the waiting and the longing for the beloved and the third one ending in an unrequited love.

Finally she ended with a finale of combining all her skills in the dance called Tarana, which displayed an array of movements, varying moods, fluctuating speeds, symmetry and spins.

Click here to see the slideshow of the performance.

[Sanskrit: Nritta/Nritya to English: Narrate/Narrative; Sanskrit: Katha, to Persian/Arabic: Kaida]


Anil Bhanot
18 Dec 2011

click here for slideshow of the performance here