Kathaks were originally story-tellers or troubadours who used dance to illustrate ‘Kathas’ or stories. They were attached to temples of North India.
With the advent of the Muslim rule, Kathak went from the temple to the courts. Consequently Kathak flowered as a form in the Hindu Courts of Delhi, Agra and Lucknow. Court patronage evolved Kathak into a highly technical and stylised art with emphasis on the solo performers and their virtuosity.
Gradually, the two schools became distinctively different-the Jaipur Gharana focussed on layakari, or rhythmic wizardry, while the Lucknow Gharana expounded bhava or moods and emotions. Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was instrumental in the Lucknow Gharana’s growth. (see Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khilari) deal with the period). However, both schools have Radha & Krishna as their central theme.
Rhythm, timing and so footwork are the main planks of Kathak. The musical accompaniment to the 200 ghungrus or bells on the dancer’s feet, are the sarangi and the tabla.
Kathak is a true fusion of the Hindu and Muslim genius in art and it is the only Classical dance of North India.