BASIC THEORY
  • Laya (Pace): The pace of a taal (music rhythm) is referred to as laya. There are three types of laya:
    • Vilambit Laya: Vilambit laya has a very slow languid pace. The Vilambit laya is used to present the performer at the beginning of the dance.
    • Madhyam Laya: The medium pace, which is neither vigorous not languid is the madhyam laya. 
    • Dhrut Laya: Vigorous pace of music is referred to as a dhrut laya. Dhrut laya is utilized at the end of a dance performance while performing the tathkar (feet movement). 
  • Sama (Base): The first syllable (matra) of the taal (rhythm) is referred to as sama.  
  • Matra (Syllable): The measurable benchmark, or syllable, of a musical rhythm is referred to as matra. Matra is the fundamental unit of a taal.
  • Taali(Clap): While singing a taal (rhythm), the matras, other than sama and khali, are played out by clapping as referred to as taali. 
  • Khaali (Rest): While singing a taal (rhythm), the matras that are played out by keeping the palms separate, are referred to as khaali.
  • Gath Nikaas (Walking gait): The term ‘gath’ refers to speed. The unique style with which a dancer walks to the front of the stage, and then turns around to go back is referred to as gath nikaas.
  • Gath Palta (Switching gait): When the dancer turns around in both directions while performing the gath, and particularly in extended gaths when multiple characters are depicted by the same dancer, the switch in style is referred to as gath palta.  
  • Thaath (Style/Attitude): The style or attitude shown by the dancer at the beginning of dance. This is done in vilambit taal. The dancer assumes a beautiful stance, while moving the wrists slowly and gracefully. Its main purpose is to  focus the audience’s attention
  • Salami (salutation): When the dancer performs salutatory toda to the assembly at the beginning of the dance, this piece is referred to as salami.
  •  Rangmanch pranam: When the dancer respectfully greets the assembly while dancing, it is called rangmanch pranam. 
  •  Baant: The accentuations created while performing the tathkaar (footwork) by pausing at various matras to show the beauty of the rhythm is referred to as baant.
  • Tukda/toda( set piece): The group/ combination of note/sounds(bol) that starts at a sama (base) and also ends at a sama (base) is called a tukda or toda. 

    

 

Symbols of the kathak thaal script:

  • khaali/rest – o
  • sama/base –  x
THEORY
  • aamudh(entry): a persian word that means entry or arrival. The thoda with which a kathak dancer enters the assembly
  • thoda/tukda(set piece): The combination of tabla,pakhavaj, or sounds(bol) that starts at a sum and ends with the same sum.
  • Paran: The notes usually played on a pakhavaj are called paran. It also has another definition. Paran is a collection or combination of tabla/pakhavaj notes that is longer than thoda/set piece,and ends on the last thoda.
  • Chakradhar thoda: A thoda repeated three times and ends on sum.
  • Chakradhar paran:  A paran repeated three times and ends on sum. The paran which is done with speed and force.
  • Kavith: The thoda in which the notes of the dance are blended with the words of a song. Kavith describes a particular event. Dancer also expresses emotion along with the dance.
  • Kasak-masak(twist-shake): When the body is moved left and right, the movement is called kasak(twist). When the body is moved up and down, it is referred to as masak(shake). These movements are utilized in beauty oriented narratives
  • Tihai or teeya: The words that are repeated three times to end on sum.
  • Chakradhar tihai: The tihai that is repeated three times to end on sum.
  • Ungh prathyang upaang (body sections): The human body is divided into three sections:
    • ungh: Major body parts.there are six major body parts:
      • head, hands, backside, chest, waist, legs
    • Prathyang: Sub-major parts of the body(smaller than major parts). These parts automatically move along with the major parts are move.
      • Back, stomach, etc.
    •  Upaang: The smallest body parts
      • Eyes and eyelids
  • Guth bhaav(expression of the gait): There are two types of gait expressions:
    • Chhoti guth (minor gait): In minor gaits, a particular movement is picked and is completed by repeating three times.
    • Badi guth (major gait): In major gaits, a particular event is enacted using complete expressions. A dancer often demonstrates multiple characters in a major gait.
  • Mudra (hand gestures): The artful formations or gestures of the hands are called mudras. It is utilized as a symbolic language in dance. The conversations between the two characters in dance are depicted through mudras.
  • Shirobhedh (head gestures): There are nine types of head gestures according to Abhinay Darpan (The Mirror of Gesture)
    • Sum shir (neutral head): When the head is in a neutral position, neither tilted upwards nor downwards.
      • Usage: Typically used at the beginning of dance to depict pride, victory, astonishment, etc.
    • Udvahit shir (raised head): When the head is lifted or tilted upward.
      • Usage:  Used to look at birds in the sky, sun/moon/planet/star, mountain peak, flags, etc.
    • Adhomukh shir (lowered head): When the head is lowered or tilted downward
      • Usage: Used to depict shame, regret/remorse, greetings, worry, dizziness, etc.
    • Aalolit shir (swooning head): When the head is turned in a circle.
      • Usage: Used to depict sleepiness or being possessed by a ghost or a spirit in the night.
    • Duth shir: When the head is repeatedly turned from left to right
      • Usage: Used to depict refusal, surprised/astonishment, concern, chills, or looking on both sides
    • Kampith shir (nodding): When the head is repeatedly moved upward and downward.
      • Usage: Used to depict anger, asking a question, getting someone’s attention, referring to self or answering “yes”
    • Paravruth shir (twisted head): When you look over your head
      • Usage: Used to depict anger, shame, contempt/disdain
    • Utkshipth shir (distorted head): When the head is turned one way while glancing in the other direction
      • Usage: Used to insult someone, to depict the effort of recollection, or looking at something above
    • Parivahith shir (circulated head): When the head is repeatedly turned in both directions
      • Usage: Used to depict a crawling creature, and affection, etc.