Kathak Ethos

NAMASKAAR

Namaskaar or Abhinandan is an important part of the Guru-Shishya Parampara in Kathak. Offering respect to the Guru before the performance is a part of our cultural heritage.

Before every dance performance, one must pay their respects to their guru, fellow musicians as well as to the audience through the Namaskaar. Watch the video for one interesting way in which this is done.

TEEN TAL TATKAAR

The movements of feet along with the rhythm (taal) and tempo is known as Tatkaar. Tatkaar can be performed at various ‘lays’ or speeds.

No performance can be complete without Tatkaar, which is one of the most challenging aspects of Kathak. Check out for more.

CHAKRADAR TIHAI

Chakradar Tihai is performed as the final piece of tatkaar, in dhrutlay (the fastest speed). Chakradar, in Kathak, means repetition of the dance piece three times.

Chakradar Tihai is therefore a fast-paced and relatively lengthy part of tatkaar. Watch the video for more.

CHAKRADAR TUKDA

‘Tukdas’ are the most basic, yet the most important dance pieces in the Kathak dance form. Teen tal tukdas was one of the first things I learned when I started my practice of Kathak.

This is the first time we see the coming together of mudras, footwork, facial expressions and bodily movements. Watch the video for a glimpse into this.

GAT NIKAS

This is essentially a composition showcasing the movement of birds, animals, a human character or Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

It is in the Gat Nikas, in which ‘abhinay’ or ‘theatrical performance’ can be seen most clearly, along with the technicalities of Kathak and the melodious tunes of various instruments, such as the sarangi. Watch the video for one of the most famed Gat Nikas compositions - Lord Krishna playing the ‘Baansuri’.

JHAPTAAL AND EKTAAL

Jhaptaal is the taal learned right after teen tal during the practice of Kathak. It has 10 ‘matras’, and has a unique rhythmical structure.

Ektaal is considered as the last basic taal of Kathak, after which practitioners start learning the more complex ‘Dhamaar’ and ‘Pancham Savari’ taals (see below). Ektaal consists of 12 ‘matras’ , divided into 6 ‘vibhags’.

DHAMAAR TAAL

Dhamaar Taal is the first of the advanced taals learned in Kathak. It consists of 14 ‘matras’, and is usually played with the ‘pakhavaj’. Dhamaar is a bold taal and was usually associated with kings of ancient times.

PANCHAM SAVARI TAAL

Pancham Savari, the taal that I have recently finished learning, consists of 15 matras, and is one of the more melodious, yet complex taals of Kathak. This is one among the last few taals learned by Kathak practitioners.