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Kathak Dance Classes 

Students will learn the many facets of Kathak including but not limited to:

  • Lehera (Melody)

  • Tekha (Tabla bol)

  • Various Guns (Speeds) and Variations of Tatkar (footwork)

  • Karans (body movements in association with an emotional basis)

  • Hand gestures

  • Accenting

  • Turns

  • Technical Compositions





Kathak is among the seven major classical dances of India and is one of the most dynamic theatre arts in the world. The word Kathak is derived from katha, meaning the ‘art of storytelling’. It is believed to be synonymous with the community of artists known as Kathakas, whose profession it was to narrate history and the philosophical epics while performing. Kathak is known for its graceful fluidity of movement, exciting rhythms shown through both footwork and body vocabulary, and rapid pirouette turns called chhakkars.

Kathak is the study of North Indian Classical Dance. This class is being led by Artistic Director Ashley Kumar, who is under the guidance of Joanna De Souza, Master Instructor and extraordinary Kathak Artist from MDO School of Kathak Toronto and Chandam School of Kathak (California).  

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Who is Joanna De Souza, and what is MDO Kathak?


Joanna began her life-long study and practice of Kathak dance in 1978, under the world renowned Pandit Chitresh Das.
Under his guidance in the traditional one-on-one ‘guru-shisha-param-para’ system, she received knowledge in all aspects of Kathak dance including performance, theoretical understanding and teacher training. From 1985 to 1987, Joanna traveled to Kolkata, India, living in the home of her Guru, and studied the Bengali language, the theoretical and historical elements of Kathak, traditional music repertoire and Sarangi, the traditional bowed instrumental accompaniment to Kathak. In 1987 she became the only Canadian-born artist to receive a Master’s Degree in Kathak dance through Prayag Sangit Samiti, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, where she achieved the all-India first place standing in Kathak.


Joanna’s return to Canada was fuelled by the intent to establish the art form here from a unique perspective as an informed, contemporary, non-South Asian classical Indian dancer, and together with tabla player, teacher and composer Ritesh Das, she has built one of the most respected teaching institutions in the country called MDO Kathak Toronto. From her belief in Kathak as a living art form, she strives to use understanding and deep respect for its traditions to explore the points of intersection between it and other art forms.

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