What a great question!

December 31, 2015

I just got asked the most awesome question. "Kathak dance. After all the shows, and lessons and performances, what will the student get out of it? How will it help her in her life?"


AWESOME QUESTION! Not a question that can be answered in one sentence... I know why Kathak dance is important and beneficial to me, but maybe I need a more formulated answer to give to potential students.

Hence, I've been researching for answers for more than a few years now to create some type of formulated answer that is based on experience of analyzing my own Kathak environment, but also I'm looking for studies and essays that might solidify certain findings. Here are just a few of the findings I agree with:


-Increases neural connections, mental capacity, memory, problem-solving skills -- a.k.a. cognitive reasoning.

(Kathak involves a lot of patterns, variations of the same patterns, mathematical equations related to cycles of music and footwork to fit those cycles, accenting and many more left-brained type of skills. Most of the Kathakas I know are extremely high-achievers with most of them holding Masters and PhD degrees or working in challenging corporate sectors of the economy, or generally outstanding achievers in their respective fields of work. I see that Kathak is an attractive dance form to those who don't shy away from challenges - which by default, means a committed practice of Kathak could help develop a stronger more confident person!)


-Builds self-esteem and mind-body connections

(Because a Kathaka is often reciting as she practices, she is directing her body to do what her mind says. She is in control of her body, and not vice versa. This is an extremely important connection to have in an ever-changing fast paced world where we often feel out of control or overwhelmed!)


-Meditative qualities help to reduce stress increase self-connection, self-discovery, self-awareness & presence of mind!

(Practicing a particular set of footwork repeatedly to create muscle memory while also deciphering the music that one is practicing to and reciting the 'bol' at the same has a meditative / trance-inducing quality that can help to alleviate the mind of all other thoughts/worries/fears etc. Pandit Chitresh Das actually created something called Kathak Yoga which is actually a multi-tasking skill but somehow can calm the mind -- its fascinating!)


-Historical & Cultural connections

(Many of the stories that are shared through this art-form help to educate the dancer of the ancient epics that Indians based their daily way of life upon such as the Ramayan and Mahabharata. Also, Kathak is the only Classical Indian dance influenced by aspects of both Hinduism and Islam which both have a strong historical presence in South Asian countries such as India).


-Creates physical stamina and builds endurance

(When a dancer starts to develop their fastest and most complex footwork and chakkars {swift turns}, they must challenge their cardiovascular & muscular sytstem to great depth.


-Learn and develop the art of story-telling

(Kathakas must learn to tell stories and communicate them effectively; interestingly, Kathakas are often adept at writing, poetry, and expressive art-work. Additionally, after learning Kathak for a few years and having been exposed to the complex rhythms of Indian Classical music, one can actually acquire the ability to choreograph dance to ANY music one hears!)


Hear it directly from some beginner Kathakas - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_sredqeBZQ


Reference Materials:

-MDO School of Kathak - Student Handbook







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