A Kathak experience
It was a mid summer sunny and hot day when I had the wonderful opportunity to share the pleasure of dancing with a few young girls from Sultanpur Lodhi. On an earlier meeting at the Qila Sarai, a few College going music students had expressed their desire to experience a Kathak class and their spontaneous curiosity convinced me to take with me to Sultanpur Lodhi as many bells (ghungru) as I could, on my next visit.
In Kathak what you need to learn, first of all, is how to tie your ghungru to make the anklets….the process is rather long and cannot be completed in one day…it is, maybe, the first test for your patience and determination to learn.
We started with the basic dance steps using the Anad Foundation’s Office verandah as our dance floor, in the open, accompanied by the chirping of the birds flying and playing among the branches of a tall Neem tree on which a Peepal tree decided to place itself and grow (you could, in fact, call that tree a Neem-pal!).
Breathing in and breathing out…extend your arms, reaching out as if to embrace the world…take everyone and everything close to your heart…that is how you can start feeling the dance springing out of yourself…dance, not just body movements, dance as a meditation, breaking free from the bondage of ignorance and fear…
It was surprising to witness the willingness to follow and to experience something new and to find all of us engaged in this exchange. Simple steps in a slow tempo seemed an easy start in 16 beats, in Tintal. That is how the basic Kathak training develops: du-gun, chau-gun, ath-gun…the tempo increases and the steps, though simple, are not so easy to follow….Palta, Tatkar, Chakra, Tihai, Tukra and Paran…it is a long way to go if you really wish to have a feel of what this traditional dance is….
It was a great experience for me and maybe the seeds sown on that day will give, in future, the flowers of artistic expressions! May these flowers give happiness and joy to as many people as possible!