Jaipur, 5 February: The second day of ‘Samidha’ — classical dance ensemble at Jawahar Kala Kendra began with a Seminar and Demonstrations on ‘Kathak Nritya – Shastra, Parampara Aur Aadhunikta’ with experts like Dr. Manjiri Deo from Mumbai. Dr. Geeta Raghuveer from Jaipur, Roshan Datye from Pune, Dr. Rekha Thakar from Jaipur and Manjari Sinha from Delhi at Krishnayan.
Geeta Raghuveer inititated the discussion with explaining what ‘Parampara’ exactly means. Generally seen as traditions, customs or a body of principles, Parampara, she said is a relative term. The scope of Parampara in terms of Kathak is diverse and its elements can be seen in the dress worn during Kathak, the way Kathak is presented, the teaching methods as well as the music instruments that accompany the dance. In the earlier times, only men used to learn Kathak. The relation between the Guru and student is of paramount importance in ‘Kathak’, she added.
Manjiri Sinha highlighted the fact that ‘Kala’ is not just limited to one skill but is intertwined with all other forms of art. Kathak too is co-related with music, literature as well as visual arts. This co-relation has been carrying on in Kathak since a long time. Talking about the spur in technology, she said that not having technology and recording facility was a boon in earlier times as in those days the only source of knowledge for a student was his/her Guru. Now the students rely more on CDs and DVDs and the close relationship between a student and Guru has taken a backseat. Shastra, she said, is not a static body of reference points. In fact, it is always evolving.
Continuing the discussion on ‘Shastra’, Shashi Sankhla said that not everything can be learnt from the written word. Oral knowledge is also extremely important in learning Kathak in its holistic form. Thus, nothing can replace the significance of Guru in Kathak. She also demonstrated some Kathak movements.
Dr. Rekha Thakar referred to Kathak as a historic tradition whose origin remains unfounded. Kathak contains within itself all dance forms. Kathak has been a recurring art form has made its comeback over and over again throughout history. She believes that the basic Ang ofNatyashashtra is now missing in today’s dance teaching practices. She believes kids nowadays should be taught the various types of Ang earlier so they know which form to use and when. She also discussed her Guruji’s teachings and describes how each Bol can be translated into several forms. She also demonstrated several Thaats of Kathak, which she learned from her Guruji in her young age.
Dr. Manjiri Deo started her talk with a dance performance of Ganesh Vandana which was well received by the audience. She explains how art comes in different forms. Each form is dependent on a person’s personality, which makes dance a form of bodily expression. Dance is a significant part of Sahitya. She discusses the prominence of poetic expression in Kavita Kathak, which has recently become famous in the Kathak dance form. She also read out and danced to several Kavyas. She also repented on the loss of vital dance knowledge due to it being hidden away by many. She expressed their need to be let out into the open for the students to absorb the knowledge and keep the art alive.
Roshan Datye, who has studied Natya Shashtra for twenty years talked about the variousShashtriya Vadaye in Kathak, which are practiced on a daily basis by her students. She spoke about what is Natya Shashtra and the different Shashtryas which have gotten lost over time. She demonstrated the various Kathak Hastra Mudras such as, Chatura, Swastikam, Mayuraand several more. She also demonstrated various foot movements and discussed various foot positions which involved the movement of hands, feet and a combination of both.