The Nrityangan Kathak Dance Academy, located in CARMEL, Indiana, teaches the North Indian classical dance form of Kathak.   It was founded in 2004 by Dr. Anindita Sen.

Several women dance on a stage. Their arms are all outstretched to the side.
Nrityangan Kathak Dance Academy  Annual Dance Showcase, 2017 Credit: Nrityangan Kathak Dance Academy View Source

Sen spent 15 years studying the Lucknow style of Kathak dance in Kolkata, India. She then traveled throughout the United Kingdom and the United States lecturing and demonstrating the dance tradition she offers to students at her academy.  Her students have performed at numerous events such as the India Day celebration at MONUMENT CIRCLE, the INDIANA STATE FAIR, the HINDU TEMPLE OF CENTRAL INDIANA, and GREATER INDIANAPOLIS TELUGU ASSOCIATION events.

The Kathak form of dance reflects a North Indian classical dance tradition nurtured in holy temples and patronized in the courts of 16th-century Mughal emperors.  While it is one of the eight forms of classical Indian dance, it is distinguished from all other forms through its fusion of Hindu spiritualism and Persian dance. It features fast footwork and intricate and graceful hand movements with repetitive pirouettes most comparable to Flamenco-style dancing.

A group of women dance in a line on a stage. They are wearing colorful dresses.
Nrityangan Kathak Dance Academy Showcase, 2020 Credit: Nrityangan Kathak Dance Academy View Source

At its core, Kathak dance is a form of storytelling; its name comes from the Vedic Sanskrit word “katha,” which means stories.  Wandering Kathakars, or storytellers, traveled to different parts of India telling and enacting mythological Indian tales through mime, hand gestures, and facial expressions.  Generational transfer of Kathak skills, techniques, and knowledge resulted in a refinement of this dance tradition.

The refinement of the Kathak dance tradition distilled three main schools, or ghanaras, which take their name from the city where the dance evolved.  Historically the Jaipur ghanara focuses more on foot movements, and the Banaras and Lucknow ghanaras more on facial expressions and graceful hand movements. Although Kathak is an Indian/Persian interpretive tradition, it shares similarities with all other forms of Indian classical dance.  They share an expressional component referred to as Nritya which emphasizes the graceful execution of words, musical notes, and gestures to articulate a message.

Revised November 2023

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