Level 3 Theory

Madhyama Pratham

Renowned Artists

Shri Narayan Prasad ji 

      Shri Narayan Prasad ji was the youngest brother. He was the younger brother of Chiraunji Lal. From a young age,he liked to dress up and dance. He was born in Jaipur in 1910. He received early training in dance from his father and uncle. He started learning dance at the age of 8 to the beats of the footwork(thathkar). After two years of learning only footwork,he moved on to learning thodas, parans, and other gaits. 

He was appointed to the post of Raigarh’s royal court dancer in his early youth. Subsequently, he danced at conferences in places like Raigarh, Kanpur, Calcutta, Bombay, Jaipur, and Jodhpur. He used to dance sublimely to the most difficult rhythms. He used to play tabla and pakhawaj very well, while also being a gifted singer. Tumri,expressions, and play-acting were his favorite topics. Shri Narayan Prasad ji considered music to be an essential element of play-acting because acting loses its impact without music. He himself would sing  in a beautiful voice along with his play-acting.

Shri Narayan Prasad ji was conferred the title of “Nrityacharya (Professor of dance)” in 1953 during the Belgaum Session of the ABM mandal in recognition of his supreme talent in the kathak dance form. He was the Head Instructor Dance at the GM, New Delhi for over ten years. He was an effective teacher in addition to being a skilled dancer. His famous disciples include Kundanlal, Shankar ji, Rani Karna, Rita Bhandari, Vishwaram.

Shri Narayan Prasad ji passed away on 12 September, 1958.   Several artists dance to poems penned by him to this day. He wrote compositions on Krishna’s character in his last days. People lamented that the Jaipur Gharana died along with his passing away. He was survived by four sons and three daughters.

Shambhu Maharaj

Shambu Maharaj was born on Karthik Purnima in November 1909 in Lucknow to Shri Bindadeen Maharaj. Bindadeen Maharaj entrusted Shambu Maharaj in Acchan Maharaj’s care at the time of his death. Shambhu Maharaj was eight years old at that time. Shambhu Mahraj trained under the eyes of Acchan Maharaj until the age of thirteen.  He moved to Rampur at the age of fourteen, where Acchan Maharaj was the Royal Court Dancer. His training continued in Rampur until he turned nineteen. Then, he moved to Lucknow to publicize his dance. He was conferred with the title of Nritya Samrat (Dance Emperor) in 1936 during the Dehradun Music Seminar. Soon afterward, he was honored by the Sangeet Natya Academy (Music and Dance Academy), and was decorated with the Padmashri by the President of India. 

Shambhu Maharaj persevered for the development of the Kathak artform. He is credited with the creation of various types of tathkar notes and footwork. He gave a new life to the Thumri aspect of dance, and get a significant share of the credit for the revival of Thumri. He is recognized as the supreme Natwari dancer of this time,  depicting Krishna’s character through dance.  The specialization of the Thumri art is that a single sound note is expressed in multiple unique forms. When he danced to “Kaun Gali Gayo Shyam,” he used to depict Gali (street) and Shyam (Krishna) is many different ways. He was considered the guru of emoting. He had a daughter and two sons — Krishna Mohan, and Ram Mohan.

The famous disciples of Shambhu Maharaj include Gopikrishna, Damayanti Joshi, Sitara Devi, Birju Maharaj, Mohan Rao, Maya Rao etc. He nurtured the Kathak dance form over a long duration of 49 years.

Jailal Maharaj

Shri Jailal Maharaj was born in 1885.He was trained by his father.He also learned in Lucknow under the tutelage of  Bindadeen Maharaj.then he was a dancer in the Jaipur royal court.He also spent some time in Nepal,Jodhpur,Sikri,Raigarh, and Mohur.He was a teacher in the Raigarh royal court for twelve years after returning from Nepal.He had two famous disciples in Raigarh named Kalyan and Karthik. There was also a disciple named Jaikumari  who was the best dancer of her time across India.

In addition to being a successful dancer, Shri Jailal Maharaj was also a gifted tabla and pakhavaj player. He was in Bombay for 12 years and then moved to Calcutta where he lived for 6-9 years until his death. His daughter Jaikumari and son Ramgopal were later the principal teachers in Calcutta’s Kathak Nritya Kendra.


 Different Gharana


  • Characteristics of the Jaipur Gharana.

The Jaipur Gharana prospered in Rajasthan.The beat is considered to be the principal component of this dance form.This dance is greatly influenced by Tandav (Shiva’s dance). For this reason, this style of dancing focuses more on the theme of valor. This gharana incorporates long and elaborate parans (spins) in the dance. This gharana is credited for the single legged spin in kathak.The dancers of this gharana tended to dance more on religious passages such as the compositions of Surdas and Tulsidas. Because of this, the dancers of Jaipur gharana were highly religious. They would mostly dance in temples. This gharana specializes in dance based on poetry. The dancers of this gharana do not display any vulgar movements or expressions. This dance style demonstrated that the kathak dance is not simply about flashy movements or attitude, but is also about depicting the stories of Ram and Arjun. The dancers of the Jaipur gharana took special interest in religious literature. Despite being illiterate, these dancers performed religious stories very well.

This dance form remained largely untouched by Muslim influences because it prospered predominantly in the courts of Hindu rulers. Since the Hindu rulers mostly preferred vigorous dances, the Jaipur gharana displays strong footwork in the dances. This gharana is the best in demonstrating tathkar (footwork). These dancers are very skilled in elaborate and complex taals such as Dhamaar, Ektaal, Ashtmangal, Brahma, and Ganesh. This gharana emphasizes the emotions in gaits (gath bhav) over the gait movements (gath nikaas). They specialize in dancing to bols (notes) created from sounds similar to tabla, pakhawaj or bird sounds.  However, this gharana does not pay as much attention to the hand gestures (mudras) as it does on the purity of foot movement.

  • Characteristics of the Lucknow Gharana

The Lucknow Gharana is a primary Gharana of Kathak dance form. This Gharana is famous for its beauty and grace, with extra emphasis on the body. This gharana specializes in emotions and expressions. Dances in this gharana are beautifully performed not only to bols/sounds, but also with pakhawaj accompaniment. They do not have the tradition of dancing to songs with lyrics. Laasya or Pramal or Paran are often seen in this dance style. The feet movement does not get much attention. This Gharana typically has short todas and tukdas, but they are performed beautifully. This gharana contributed the standing tathkar style. They have a tradition of dancing the todas with various matras. Attitude/Thaath is also an important component of this dance style. This gharana emphasizes the gait movements (gath nikaas) over emotions in gaits (gath bhav).

 Bindadeen Maharaj was the principal dancer of this gharana. He enhanced the preeminence of this gharans by writing hundreds of thumris. This dance specializes in emoting to thumris.

  • Kataksh (leer): Kataksh is expressed using the eyes. Kataksh is exercised by sweetly using the side eye look. This look is employed while depicting beauty and seduction during thumri and various gaths (gaits).
  • ‘Pramal’ : The Pramal toda is represented with those todas into which the bol (sounds) of table, pakhawaj, dance and poetry are combined together. 


Aspects of Nartan (Performing Art)


Aspects of Nartan (Performing Art): Nartan has three main parts

  • Nrit: Graceful movement of body parts based only on taal, but without any involvement of bhaav (emotion) or abhinaya (acting) is referred to as Nrit. Nrit lays emphasis on taal (beats).
  • Natya: When thoughts and feelings are expressed using dialogue without any musical accompaniment, such a performance is referred to as Natya (drama).
  • Nritya: Nritya (dance) is the expression of thoughts and feelings in the context of any event or a story object presented within the boundaries of a taal, accompanied by melodious music. 

Laasya: Laasya is displayed by women. This dance form is soft and tender. Melodious music and tender expressions are utilized in this dance.

Taandav: The Taandav dance was performed by Lord Shiva. This dance is particularly performed by men, or to depict masculine characters. This dance has a fierce nature. Fierce or angry expressions are displayed to the accompaniment of vigorous music.

Famous Tabla players who accompany dance with their music:

Ustad Zakir Hussain

Ustad Latif Ahmed Khan

Ustad Allah Rakha Khan

Pandit Shri Kishan Maharaj

Ustad Ahmed Jaan Pishkwa

Pandit Shri Suresh Talwalkar

Neck Movements

Abhinaya Darpan (Thespian Philosophy) defines four types of Greeva Sanchalan (neck movement):

  • Sundari Greeva: Sundari neck movement is formed by sliding the neck left and right without raising the shoulders while keeping the neck straight.
    • Usage: Used to display affection or seeking approval.
  • Tischichani Greeva: Tischichani neck movement is displayed by turning the neck left and right in a serpentine motion. 
    • Usage: Used to display a sword fight or movement of snakes or other reptiles.
  • Parivartita Greeva: Parivartita neck movement is displayed by turning the neck left and right in a crescent movement.
    • Usage: Used to depict beauty and seduction or to show a beautiful object
  • Prakamptita Greeva: Prakampita neck movement is performed by projecting the neck forward and backward like a pigeon. 
    • Usage: Used to depict you-vs-me, swing and pigeons etc.

Drishti Bhed (Distinction of Vision/Gaze)

Abhinaya Darpan (Thespian Philosophy) defines eight types of Drishti Bhed (gaze):

  • Sama Drishti: Sama drishti (level gaze) is formed by holding the gaze is straight and even with an erect head. 
    • Usage: Use to express surprise at the beginning of the dance, or to depict the statue of a deity.
  • Aalokit Drishti: Aalokit Drishti (Wide gaze) is formed by keeping the eyes wide open and turning the eyeballs in a circle.
    • Usage: Use to show coins, potters wheel etc.
  • Saachi Drishti: Saachi Drishti (Sideways gaze) is formed by looking towards the corners of the eyes.
    • Usage: Used to draw attention to a sign, depicting a thoughtful posture, twirling the moustache or to point towards somebody.
  • Pralokit Drishti: Pralokit Drishti (sweeping gaze) is formed by sweeping the gaze from one end to the other.
    • Usage: Used to indicate both sides and to express deep affection
  • Nimilit Drishti: Nimit drishti (half-closed gaze) is formed by closing the eyes half-way.
    • Usage: Used to depict a serpent, during prayer or deep meditation.
  • Ullokit Drishti: Ullokit Drishti (upward gaze) is formed by looking upward
    • Usage: Used to depict high stature, or celestial objects such as moon, stars, planets, constellations etc.
  • Anuvrit Drishti: Anuvrit Drishti is displayed by rapidly looking up and down.
    • Usage: Used to depict anger, or to draw attention
  • Avlokit Drishti: Avlokit Drishti (downward gaze) is formed by looking downward
    • Usage: Used to depict shadow, tiredness or body of the individual


Folk Dance and Modern Dance (Uday Shankar Style)


Folk dance: As the name suggests, folkdance is the dance of the common people. This dance is primarily performed by Adivasis (Tribal folks). This dance form is quite different from classical dance in many ways. Learning the folk dance does not require classical techniques and yet, this is considered as a traditional dance form. Specialized training is not required to learn folk dance. It can be easily learnt by observing the performance of other dancers. 

After a long hard day’s work, Adivsais assemble  in the evening and dance to the beat of Dhol and Nagada in an open field to entertain their tired selves. This dance and the accompanying musical beats are referred to as folk dance. A classical dancer typically performs for an objective. The dance is performed either in praise of gods/goddesses, or for entertaining an audience. In contrast, the collective dancing of the Adivasis is not for others, but for their own enjoyment. This dance form has easy accompanying music, set to the songs based on rustic themes. This music is not bound by the rigors and rules of any special raga or taal. The dance attire is either representative of their normal daily lifestyle or the distinctive local tradition of the region. In essence, folk dance has simple clothing requirements.

An attractive aspect of the folk dance of any region is that all folk dances are performed with vim and vigor. Folk dances employ the region’s simple and colloquial language, making it very popular and entertaining among the locals.  People often also include themes from their regional professions in their folk songs and dances. For example, the dance movements of Koli dancers from Maharashtra include themes like catching fish, weaving nets and rowing boats, because they are fisherfolk by profession. Several folk dance forms exist in India, such as Bhangra in Punjab, Koli in Maharashtra, Raas-Garba in Gujarat, Ghumar in Rajasthan, Chapeli in Kumaon, etc.

Modern dance: There was a time when only classical dances or regional folk dances were performed in India. It was not easy for common people to follow classical dance, because it is important to understand the dance technique in order to appreciate the nuances of the dance. Seeing the flagging popularity of classical dance, Uday Shankar, himself an accomplished classical dancer, observed that it was very important to make the Indian performing arts form more entertaining for the masses. He also concluded that many essential improvements needed to be introduced in Indian dance. He started blending facets of western dances into the Indian dance form to create a modern dance style that came to be known as the “Uday Shankar Dance Style.” He created a fusion of Indian classical music with western musical harmonies and melodies. New dance movements were created by blending Indian and Western dance sensibilities. The traditional classical dance attire, which had been in prevalence amongst dancers since ancient times, was replaced with modern clothing styles. Whereas traditional dances took their story inspirations from devotional works like Ramayana and Mahabharat, Uday Shankar chose to create song and dance creations based on modern themes. The lighting arrangement of stage performances (Rangmanch) of Indian dances significantly lagged behind international standards. He spruced up the stage presentation by utilizing various creative lighting concepts. A stellar example of his creativity is Shadow Dance (Chhaya Nritya). Thus, the new dance style created by Uday Shankar through holistic advances in story concepts, dance attire, stage arrangements, modern music and body movements, with an inspired fusion of concepts from both Western and Indian classical dance philosophy is now known as Contemporary or Modern Dance. 




Sanyukt Hast Mudras (Joined Hand Gestures)

Anjali Hast (Salutation): Anjali hast mudra is formed by holding both hands together in pataka hasta mudra. 

Usage: Used for offering prayers to deities, teachers/gurus and brahmins. The Anjali hast is formed above the head for greeting deities, at the face for teachers and at the heart for brahmins. 

Kapot Hast (Dove): Kapot hast mudra is formed by joining both hands together at the wrist and the tip of the middle finger.

Usage: Used for offering salutations, conversing with teachers, making vows or while accepting anything. 

Karkat Hast: Karkat hast mudra is formed by interlocking the fingers and letting them point outward.

Usage: Used for bending branches, tying bodies, pot belly, stretching the body, blowing a conch etc.

Swastika Hast: Swastika hast mudra is formed by crossing both hands in opposite directions at the back of the wrist while holding them in pataka hast mudra. 

Usage: Used for crocodiles, conflicts, praise etc

Dola Hast: Dola hast mudra is formed by holding both hands by the thighs in pataka hast mudra.

Usage: Use at the beginning of an act, in welcoming a lover, or in unconsciousness.

Pushpa Puta Hasta: Pushpa puta hast mudra is formed by holding both hands together in Sarpa Shirsha mudra.

Usage: Used for offering prayers, receiving or offering water, flowers and rice, chanting mantra

Utsang Hast Mudra: Utsang hast mudra is formed by crossing the hands and placing them on the opposite arms in MrigaShirsha hast mudra. 

USage: Used to embrace, show coyness, depicting armlets (bajuband), wearing and removing clothes etc

Shivaling Hast Mudra: Shivaling hast mudra is formed by placing the right hand in Shikhar mudra on the left hand in pataka mudra.

Usage: Used exclusively to depict Shivaling.

Katakavardhan Hast Mudra: Katakavardhan hast mudra is formed by crossing both hands at the back of the wrist in katakamukh hast mudra 

 Usage: Used to depict a king sitting on the throne, prayers, wedding etc.

Kartari Swastika Hast: Kartari Swastika hast mudra is formed by forming the kartari mudra in each hand and holding both hands in swastika mudra

Usage: Used to depict trees, branches, mountaintops etc.

Shakat (Demon) Hast Mudra: Shakat hast mudra is formed by forming the bhramar hast mudra in each hand while stretching out the middle finger, and then placing each hand on the opposite arm.

Usage: Used typically to depict rakshasas and demons. 

Shankh (Conch) Hast Mudra: Shankh hast mudra is created by holding the right hand in the shikhar mudra, placing it in the palm of the left hand, enclosing the right hand with the three middle fingers of the left hand and merging them with the pinky finger of the right hand. 

Usage: Used exclusively to depict a conch.

Chakra (Wheel) Hast Mudra: Chakra hast mudra is created by holding both hands together at the wrist in Ardhachandra (half-moon) hast mudra, and locking the middle finger of the left hand with the ring finger of the right hand.

Usage: Used to depict wheel or disc.

Garuda Hast Mudra: Garuda hast mudra is created by forming the ardhachandra (half-moon) hast mudra in both hands while leaving the fingers open, crossing the thumbs and joining them together.

Usage: Used to depict Garuda and bird expressions

Samputa Hast Mudra: SAmputa hast mudra is created by joing the palms of both hands, folding all the fingers as well as the thumb inward.

Usage: Used to cover objects

Pash (Snare) Hast Mudra: Pash mudra is formed by locking the pointer finger of both hands in the Sudhi mukha hast mudra.

Usage: USed to depict fights, being tied/trapped in a net/chains, etc

Matsya (Fish) Hast Mudra: Matsya hast mudra is formed by placing one hand on top of the other and spreading out the thumbs. 

Usage:  Used exclusively to depict fish

Coorma (tortoise) Hast Mudra: Coorma hast mudra is created by clasping both hands together while spreading out the pinky finger and thumb of both hands

Usage: Used exclusively to depict coorma (turtle)

Varaha (Boar) Hast Mudra: Varaha hast mudra is created by holding one palm on top of the other palm in mrigashirsha hast mudra, while stretching out and joining the pinky finger and thumb of the opposite hands

Usage: Used exclusivley to depict varaha (boar)

Kilaka Hast Mudra: Kilaka hast mudra is created by crossing the hands and locking the pinky fingers while holding both hands in chatur hast mudra.

Usage: Used to depict love and affection

Nagabandh Hast Mudra: Nagabandh hast mudra is created by holding both hands in sarpa shirsha hast mudra and placing on the opposite wrist.

Usage: Used to depict being coiled/tied by the snake

Khatava Hast Mudra: Khatava hast mudra is created by holding the pinky finger, pointer finger and the thumb of both hands erect, bending the ring finger and middle finger of both hands towards the palms and then joining the folded ring and middle fingers of both hands together. 

Usage: Used depict a cot (khat) or palenquin (palaki).

Bheroond Hast Mudra: Bheroond hast mudra is formed by conjoining Kapitth hast mudra with the back of the wrists. 

Usage: Used to depict a pair of the bheruhi bird.

Vardhamana Hast Mudra:  Vardhamana hast mudra is created by crossing both hands in the Chatur hast mudra at the wrists. 

Usage: Used to depict smiles, differences, horns etc.

Comments are closed.