Kathak is one of India’s 8 most recognized traditional forms of classical dance and finds one of its earliest references around 3rd-4th centuries. From as far back as Kathak’s history can go, it has time and again adapted and evolved itself to become what it is today. The pursuance of classical dance, a scholastic tradition, is undoubtedly meticulous and systematic. But it is a far more dynamic in nature than we tend to credit it to be. Classical dance has survived across centuries because its relevancy is adaptable to changing times, spaces, and societies.
The word ‘contemporary’, that encapsulates these changing global trends, represents different things for different regions. In the western context, Contemporary dance refers to a much more defined style of dance, born out of deconstruction and reconstruction of codified structures and expectations of its fore-runners – Ballet and Modern Dance. In the case of India, the interaction of classical dances with the global-contemporary dynamics is rather complex, as it occurs at many levels. One needs, therefore, to make a distinction between (i) “Indian Classical Dances in contemporary times” and (ii) “Indian Contemporary Dance”. The story of Kathak over the years is a good example of this adaptability and evolution.
Discussing this journey of Kathak, I had the pleasure of presenting a brief lecture at the Two-Day Online National Conference for Students on “Changing Contexts and Shaping Roles: New Perspectives on Indian Art, Literature and Aesthetics” organised by Department of English DCT’s Dhempe College of Arts and Science (Goa, India). The conference was an excellent platform for the exchange and interaction on Indian Arts with a primary focus to identify, disseminate, question and explore various innovations in the Indian artistic process. The video lecture I share below is titled “Kathak Dance and Contemporary Times: Tradition, Goals and Change”. I particularly chose to follow the journey of Kathak Dance because it has been my field of study for several years, and one of the dearest to me.
You can find the video-lecture on the following link: https://vimeo.com/533598945