top of page



Kathak is one of the eight classical dance styles from India and originates from the North of the country.


Kathak is derived from the word kathá which means 'story' in Hindi. Thus, Kathak is a narrative dance style that made it possible for Kathakars (storytellers), to tell religious and mythological stories in the temples.


The dance form flourished in the 18th century when it was moved to the courts by the Moghul monarchs. Because there was not much interest in danced stories about God in the courts, the dancers began to develop more abstract styles. These contained complex rhythms, lightning-fast pirouettes (chakras) accentuated by the ankle bells (the ghungroos) and dramatic pauses. This is how the Kathak style was developed into the style that we know nowadays.


This dance style distinguishes itself from other classical Indian dance styles such as Bharata Natyam or Odissi by its posture: the Kathak dancer stands straight, in contrast to the other styles where the dancer stands with bended legs.

Also, the handgestures (mudras) are different: in Odissi they move in traditionally fixed mudras, but the Kathak dancer moves the hands naturally, alternately, fluidly and sharply. Also the facial expression has no prescribed guidelines.


Also, this Indian classical dance style is the only one that contains Hindu as Islamic cultural elements.

Kathak is often performed solo in which the dancer is guided by percussion-and melody instruments, such as the tabla, sarangi, sitar, flute or violin.

During the dance, the dancer and percussionist encourage each other to play and dance faster building up to more complicated rhythms. This interplay of challenge between the tabla player and the Kathak dancer is also called 'Jugalbandhi'.

Love is still a popular subject that regularly returns in this dance style.

bottom of page