Gharanas in Kathak Dance in India

After decline of Mogul rule & proliferation of small principalities, Kathak dancers went to villages or in search of patronage under Nawabs (Muslim rulers) & Hindu Rajput kings. Lucknow & Jaipur became two major centers of Kathak in India.

Jaipur Gharana

The dance style which flourished under Rajput kings of Jaipur is called Jaipur Gharana. First originator of Jaipur Gharana was Bhanuji, Who learnt Tandava dance from Some Saint. Unlike Lucknow gharana Jaipur gharana has many braches in place of one family tradition.

Character & specialty

In Jaipur gharana emphasis is on forceful foot work, parans, stutis, shlokas in praise of god & goddesses.
A particular zeal or fastness is seen in Jaipur style. Jaipur gharana Kathak dancers can easily dance in the difficult tala’s like Dhamar, Choutal, Rudra, Bramha, etc.

Tatkar: “Tatkar is the ability of the dancer to execute a variety of rhythmic patterns (jatis) on a basic metrical cycle (Tala)”. In this portion dancer presents various rhythmic patterns through foot work only.

Laykaries: A tenuous form of rhythm other than a foresaid three tempos is called layakari. Few popular forms are Thah, Dugun, Tigun, Chaugun & Aad.

Kavitta: It is a poetic composition set to some Tal dance syllables are fixed to it.

Chakkar: Chakkar is the fast turns which a dancer makes. In Jaipur gharana style while performing chakkar the dancer stands on one ankle only.

Lucknow Gharana

The Lucknow gharana of Kathak dance came into existence in the beginning of the 19th century & attained maturity & perfection in the court of Wajid ali Shah. Lucknow gharana was greatly influenced by Muslim culture & traditions. In addition it was also influenced by “Rahas” dancers from Mathura & Braj (i.e.rasdharis, who specialized in the Lord Krishna Lila) & Kashmiri Bhands.
The founder of the most illustrious Lucknow gharana was revered Ishwari Prasad ji. Prakash ji the grand son of Ishwari Prasad ji was appointed court dancer during the reign of Nawab Asafudaula. He & his son Durga Prasad ji were eminent dancers who also taught Kathak dance to Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. It was his reign during which Music & Dancing flourished in an unprecedented manner.

Character & specialty
In Lucknow gharana emphasis is on Salami Rukhsaar Gat, Short tihaies.A typical performance of Lucknow gharana unfolds gradually through several stages, each stage establishing a tempo & dynamic quicker & more intense than the last.
The slow invocations to the gods (vandana/paran) are followed by several sections of abstracts pieces (that, Amad & then much faster tempo tukra, tora & paran).
Gat Nikas: The dancer suggests a series of animal or human characters using chal (Walk) & poses.
Gat Bhava: Through gat bhava (expressions) the dancer brings thumri, ghazals Dadra.
Jugalbandi: Through Jugalbandi the dancer often enters into playful rhythmic competition with their tabla accompanists in the form of duet where one imitates the other, trying constantly to outguess opponent. The ultimate aim is to develop creative improvisation with the accompanists.
Tarana: Through Tarana the dancer emphasizes both technical & expressive aspects of dance.

Benaras Gharana

The distinguish feature of this gharana is Nritts, dance bol of tabla or pakhawaj are never employed. Benaras gharana does not emphasize on the speed but believes in executing steps & movements in slow & moderate tempo with graceful precision.