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Technical Terms Used in Kathak

These are some of the technical terms commonly used in Kathak. Read more...


Amad means entry or arrival. It is of the nature of pure dance and is formaly indicated as entry of the dancer on the stage.


The six, such as head, hands, chest, sides (flanks), waist (hips) and feet are called Angas. Many include neck also among these.


Angika is named as such because it is expressed in three ways by Anga, Pratyanga and Upanga which are used in every dance. When Anga (major limb) moves, the Pratyanga and Upanga also move.


Bhajans are replete with Bhakti Rasa or devotional verses and are compositions of the saint musicians, Surdas, Tulsidas,Mira and Kabir.


Chatranga as the trem itself means is self-explanatory: a composition that has four parts: the words of the song, the syllables used for tarana, the solfa syllables of the saragam and trivat that has the mnemonic syllables of the pakhawaj.


Dadra is a light composition set to some folk tune or a light cassical Raga. The language is usually folk dialect.It gets its name from the Tal to which it is sung. This happens to be a favourite musical composition on hich a great deal of interpretative dancing has been devloped in Kathak.


Torso movements are known to this dance style. Only the shoulder line changes its angle which appears to be manipulation of the upper torso. This treatment gives the dance style its peculiar fluidity and some its characteristic torso postures. The shoulder line and its deflection (with one shoulder depressed and the other raised) is used at its best in the execution of movements known as the Kasak-Masak


Kavit Toda has bols, mnemonic syllables, affixed to the text. The dancer employs appropriate hand gestures and expressions for the words of the text and keeps laya by feet. Dancer attempts to give a glimpse of abhinaya which on account of the speed at best remains fleeting and elementary. Many Kavits are composed narrating the mythological stories and are performed with abhinaya in a fast tempo. The popular Kavits are of Krishna's prank centering around stealing the butter, Makahan chori, lifting the amount of Govardhan, etc. When enacted in abhinaya they give glimpses of abhinaya and are done in Natyadharmi mode as a solo dancer performs various roles n depcting the characters.


Laya is speed or tempo of rhythm. Laya has three catagories: 1.Vilambit meaning slow or single speed. 2. madhya meaning medium speed or double the speed of vilamvit and 3. drut meaning fast or four imes the speed of vilambit.


The metric recitation of bols or syllabes in TODA with clappings indicating the beats or Tal's is called padhant. Padhant is the part of the traditional tecnique of Kathak.Its essential requisites are correct pronunciation, accents and intonation of the bols. It also serves the purpose of acquationg the percussionist with the mnemonics of the dance pattern to be danced.


The literal meaning of Palte is turning. Turning the notes, variations of tatkar is known as Palte.which are double, four times, eight times or higher speed, or fractional one and half, double, quadruple and complicated multiples, like one and half times or three times the original speed.Tatkars and Paltee offer scintillating patterns of sound imagery, and those are produced by dexterously manipulating the pace of the footwork and the cadence of the ankle-bells,.thus while at one moment the dancer may unleash a crescendo of passionate fury, at the very next moment he may do bridle his sound as to convey no more than the whisper-soft tintinnabulation of just one Ghungru.


A Toda which is composed exclusively of the bols of Pakhawaj is called PARAN.


The six, such as shoulder- blades, arms,back belly, thigh (claves) and shanks. Many add three more- wrists, elbows and knees combined and neck.


Salami is a grace bowing to the patron, a convention, a reminder of the feudal court element, employed in Kathak as a salutation to the audience.


The Sum is the first beat of any Tal or time measure. Its sign is "X". A variation is usually spread over several bars and the excitement reaches a climax, not with the last beat of the time measure but with the first beat of the next cycle. It is impossible to miss the Sum, for it is always pointed with a sense of achivement and satisfaction. And when the Sum is accurately executed after difficult and exciting variations, the audience bursts into spontaneous applause.


Tal is a set of rhythm played within a selected time measure such as a tritaal, a measure of sixteen beats, ektal a measure of twelve beats, or dadra a measure of six beats.


Tatkar s the basic footwrk of Kathak dance. All through the performance the dancer concerns herself/ himself with the rhythm and timing. This is controlled by the footwork. Tatkar is the nature of self completing number.


A rythmic pattern danced three times in succession and landing on Sum (the first beat of any tal) is called Tehai. Tehais lend colour to the todas and they are danced with precision, flourish and beautific concluding posture that mark the Sum.


Thaat means decoration. Ths dancer uses gentle and delicate movements of wrists, neck, eye-glances, eyebrows etc. in thaat. Thaat is the introduction of the dance movements and rythem.


Thumri is a common genre of semiclassical Indian music from the North. The text is romantic and devotional in nature, and usually revolves around a girl's love for Krishna. In Thumri compositions Shringara Rasa prevails.


In a Toda, a dancer performs to the composition of the time beats in a rythmic cycle, ending with Tehai and arriving on the sum, the concluding beat.


Tirvat is a musical composition which has bols of pakhawaj. It treats the bol of pakhawaj as asthayi and antara while singing. The bandish is then danced with movements of the arms in keeping with the tala and laya. Trivat has three distinct elements: the bols of the pakhavaj, the solfa syllables of the sargam and the kavit.


Tukda means small fragment or a piece.A small Toda is know as a Tukda.


Scholars class shoulder as Upanga and according to Abhinaya Darpana, eyes,eye-brows, eyeballs, nose, jaws,teeth, chin, and faceare also called Upangas. Thus Upangas in the head are twelve. In other limbs there are ankles, toes and fingers. Upanga as mentioned in Natya Shasta are only six.