Anuradha Nag
Kathak Classical Dance
Kathak & Odissi Indian Classical Dance Styles

Anuradha Nag & Niharika Mohanty
Tarangini School of Kathak Dance & Guru Shradha

Cubberley Community Center, Studio L6
4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, May 4, 2014, 4:15-6:15 pm

Notes by Peter Y. Chou

Niharika Mohanty
Odissi Classical Dance

Preface: For Donna Frankel's Ballroom Dance Class 004.C01: "Advanced Ballroom Dancing" at Foothill College (Friday 1:00-3:50 pm), we were assigned to attend a dance event during "Bay Area Dance Week" (Friday April 25 - Sunday May 5, 2014). I missed the International Folk Dance on April 25, DanceVisions on April 26, and French Ballet on April 30. Luckily, I found Experience Kathak & Odissi Indian Classical Dance Styles on Sunday, May 4, 2014. After shopping at Safeway on Shoreline Boulevard, a friend dropped me off at Cubberley Community Center at 4 pm. I went to Dance Studio L6 to find the room packed with around 100 in the audience. I managed to find a corner seat in the front row with many sitting on the floor before me. Because the event was advertised in a church before changing to the present locale, the organizers postponed the show 15 minutes till 4:15 pm. My friend Rudy picked me up after the performance at 6:15 pm. We went to Stanford Theatre to see the Barbara Stanwyck movies Sorry, Wrong Number and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. Below are 39 photos taken at the dance event. Report is based on my four pages of notes & info links on the web.

Cubberley Community Center
Dance Connection Studio L6

Indian Classical Dance
Kathak & Odissi Styles

Kathak Dancers performing
during National Dance Week

Classical Indian Dance
showing Kathak & Odissi Styles

Kathak Dancer Anuradha Nag on
Invocation to Goddess Saraswati

Odissi Dancer Niharika Mohanty
on Odissi Classical Dance

Talk of Odissi Classical Dance

Tarana Dance Rhythms

Tarana Dance Footsteps

Tarana Dance Gestures

Tarana Dance Gestures 2

Tarana Dance Gestures 3

Tarana Dance Gestures 4

Talk on Indian Dance Styles

Demo on Classical Dance Styles

Demo on Classical Dance Styles 2

Headdress of Tarana Dancer

Dance Swirling Demo

Tarana Dance Costume

Dancers Swirling Demo

Hand Uplifted Gesture

Kathak Story Telling

Mudra Hand Gestures

Demo of Mudra Hand Gestures

Dance: Waiting for Krishna

Mudra Hand Gestures (1)

Mudra Hand Gestures 2

Dancers Swirling Demo

Kathak Story Telling

Story Telling Dancing

Trio of Classical Dancers

Trio of Dancers Turning

Dancing to Vivaldi's "Winter"

Dancing to Vivaldi's "Winter" 2

Dancing to Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake"

Dancers Namaste to Audience

Dancers Namaste to Audience 2

— Photographs by Peter Y. Chou, May 4, 2014

REPORT: When I attended Kathak Classical Dance from Northern India on May 25, 2013, taught by Farah Yasmeen Shalkh, I was busy taking notes and did not participate in learning any of the steps. So this time, I wanted to jump in and participate in the dancing. However, today's event was not teaching steps to beginners, but rather a performance by professionals contrasting Kathak and Odissi Indian Classical Dance Styles.

Goddess of Learning,
Music and Arts
Kathak Dance: Anuradha Nag makes an invocation to Saraswati the Hindu Goddess of learning, music and arts. Saraswati's lustre is like a moon shining on a snowy mountain. She represents the highest truth, and prefers wisdom over worldly material things. She is a despoiler of demons. Kathak is story-telling and is over 2000 years old. Epic folk stories from the Ramayana are presented in song and dance to engage the audience. Dancing and singing were performed in the temples. During the 16th century, Kathak dance moved to the Mughal court, as northern India came under Muslim rule (1526-1857). Music and dance from Persia were integrated with Indian dance. King Wajid Ali Shah (1822-1887) was the fifth King of Oudh. He was a poet, playwright, dancer and great patron of the arts. He is widely credited with the revival of Kathak as a major form of classical Indian dance. The lineage of Kathak dance masters can be traced as lineage progression from his reign.
King Wajid Ali Shah
ruled 1847-1856

Odissi dancer in
Namaste gesture
Odissi Dance: Niharika Mohanty tells us about Namaste and salutation greetings, done with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest. This gesture is called Añjali Mudra or Pranamasana. In Hinduism it means "I bow to the divine in you." Natya Shastra is a classical Indian text on dance forms written by the sage Bharata in the 2nd century BC. In the 6th century A.D., numerous temples worshipped the Lord Shiva. Which came first— dancers or sculptures? There are sculptures on temples worshipping Lord Vishnu. We also find Lord Surya (Sun God) on temple walls and dancing figures and dancing halls. Mahari is a "great woman" worshipped as presiding deity. A group of boys danced outside the temple. They are young and energetic, acrobatic, introducing folk dance. My guruji [Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra (1926-2004)] came from family of painters. He read Sanskrit texts explaining basic techniques, and brought Odissi dance form alive. (Quote: "Odissi is not a mere dance form to entertain people but to inspire and elevate. I don't actually dance but pray in compassion and the spectators say that this 'form' is dancing.")

Tarana is a Persian word meaning song. Tarangini is the most prominent musical compositions of Narayana Teertha, the 17th century Carnatic music composer and the author of a Sanskrit opera called Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini. The composition are on the life of the Hindu god Lord Krishna. Young boy playing flute imitating Krishna looking for Radha. We hatch out of the pose. Dance to the song through body language. You look sad because your lover is gone. Impromptu steps with facial expression waiting for her love to return. Krishna teasing Radha by spinning. Radha comes to forest to meet Krishna. She makes excuse of picking flowers for Surya, the Sun God.

Mudra pose by Kathak
dancer Anuradha Nag
Forms of Classical Indian Dance & Mudra Gestures in Indian Dance
Footsteps are heard with stringed beads and bells at the ankles. There are four forms in both Kathak and Odissi dancing. (1) Feet gestures; (2) Hand gestures (Anjali, Shivalinga); (3) Head gestures (neck gestures, eye movements & expressions); (4) Upper torse (side to side, front & back). Fifteen beats danced to with everything ending with the Sun (16th beat). Flamenco dancing came from India. Ear on the cycle of the beats similar to sounds of crickets. Six dancers performed with mudra poses. Mudra in Sanskrit means "seal" and is a spiritual hand gesture symbolizing states of mind in Buddhism and Hinduism. Mudras gestures of the hand can express joy or grief. They are indispensable part of classical Indian dances. A mudra may imitate a deer's head, perching pigeon, or flying bird. They may show a lotus budding and in bloom. I had an epiphany in 1979 finding numerous photographs of Albert Einstein in the wisdom mudra pose or chin mudra (vitarka mudra). See photo below. I've included Einstein's E=mc2 in my Poetry Anthology because his mind discerned the dance of the universe.

Nandini Ghosal in an
Indian Odissi classical dance
Dance is the music of the body
Using our face and body to show
the nine emotions (9 Rasas)—
1) Shringara— Love (Beauty, devotion)
2) Veera— Pride (courage, confidence)
3) Karuna— Sadness (pity, sympathy)
4) Raudra— Anger (irritation, stress)
5) Bhayanaka— Fear (anxiety, worry)
6) Vibhatsa— Disgust (depression, self-pity)
7) Adbhuta— Surprise (wonder, mystery)
8) Hasya— Joy (humor, happiness)
9) Shanta— Peace (calmness, relaxation)

Albert Einstein in Wisdom Mudra pose
2009 Poem Notes; 1980 Seminar; Book

Indian Classical Dancing Outside the Box
For the last 15 minutes, the Kathak and Odissi dancers performed to Western classical music instead of Indian classical music. The first performance was Antonio Vivaldi's "Winter" from The Four Seasons (1723). The dancers leaped with exuberance to the first movement (Allegro non molto) and did not include the slower second movement (Largo) that is my favorite— sounding like falling drops of rain or snowflakes (pizzicato). I was looking forward to these classical Indian dancers interpretation of Vivaldi's meditation music of rest and repose. The second performance was done to Peter Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet (1876) with more exuberant dancing.

Kathak Dance versus Odissi Dance
Some comparisons between Kathak vs. Odissi Dance: Kathak is generally a more masculine style. Kathak has a well developed tandava aspect, while most of Odissi focuses on lasya/feminine movements. Odissi is more fluid movement. Kathak has masterful footwork. Both tell the epics and stories in similar ways. Odissi is a lot more "flowing" and involves deliberate movement. Kathak is more rigid, best known for its footwork in a standing position. Both are from different regions, Kathak from Northern India and Odissi from Eastern India, and thus have a different influence and method. Kathak seems more masculine and precise, and in terms of lower body movement there is a strong degree of that. the most distinctive characteristics are rapid rhythmically complex footwork and swift pirouettes.

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© Peter Y. Chou, Wisdom Portal
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (6-5-2014)