“Dance is a song of the body. Either of joy or pain.” – Martha Grayham

Kathak originated in northwestern and central north India as a story telling tradition. This tradition was practiced by wandering monks who sang and enacted mythological stories in praise of a chosen deity at a public gathering, in a village square or temple premise. The performances occurred during social celebrations like birth, marriage, etc and on days of religious importance.

These storytellers were called the Kathakars. Hence the name Kathak.

As the tradition gained popularity, the dance style developed technically and thematically. A perfect synthesis of the Hindu story-telling tradition and the Persian dance style took place in the royal courts of the Mughal Sultans, allowing Kathak to evolve into a unique dance form with unusual characteristics like pirouettes and rhythmic tapping of the feet. The technique and presentation of Kathak is enhanced with the aware and sensuous royal Persian etiquette as well as the spiritually submissive innocence and beauty from the Hindu religious performance tradition.

Kathak uses very simple hand gestures and less stylised and closer to real life expression or abhinaya. Because of the influence of two distinct cultures, Kathak can be presented in a Hindu costume or in an adaptation of a Persian costume.