Firecracker Kathak | Dheerendra Tiwari | Dance of India




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Published on Jan 25, 2018

#darbarfestival | Dheerendra Tiwari demonstrates the power of kathak dance - a style based on spins, hand gestures, and periods of calm punctuated by bursts of densely mathematical footwork.
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Kathak is one of India’s most prominent classical dance styles. It features fluid spins, intricate hand gestures, and periods of calm punctuated by bursts of densely mathematical footwork. The tradition derives from the travelling bards of North India (‘kathakar’ means ‘one who tells a story’), and their physical storytelling techniques are still visible today - exponents are masters of mime, transforming into peacocks, demons, and many-faced gods at a moment’s notice.

Choreography combines the playful and cerebral, contrasting these mime-like expressional movements (abhinaya) with those embodying ‘pure form’ (nritta). A dancer may impersonate a flock of birds, then use rapid-fire footwork to tease new tensions from a 14-beat rhythm. Despite the extreme discipline required to master it, performances can be refreshing and even child-like, as if witnessing a return to our most basic human impulses.

Kathak is a deeply expressive tradition. Devotees describe how middle-aged male dancers can suddenly morph into beautiful young women using only the subtlest of movements (all while synchronising their footsteps and leaps to intricate tabla rhythms). Indian forms bring high demands, and training often starts early. According to Akram, “Classical dancers have to sacrifice themselves in a way – the physicality and precision are immense. There’s a certain discipline and rigour you can’t teach.”

Recorded at Darbar Festival 2017, at London’s Sadler’s Wells:
-Dheerendra Tiwari (kathak dance)
-Samiullah Khan (vocals)
-Jasdeep Degun (sitar)
-Mohit Gangani (tabla)
-Ashish Gangani (pakhawaj)

Darbar believes in the power of Indian classical arts to stir, thrill and inspire. Through shared experiences and digital connectivity we ensure that one of the world’s finest art forms reaches the widest possible audience. Founded in 2006, we deliver premium quality live events, music education, broadcasts and online engagement through promoting artistic innovation and creative technology. We are also committed to providing a platform for new talent from India and the UK.

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