Kathak, an Indian Classical Dance form, is the culmination of years of varied cultural influences on the art that emanated from the story-tellers of the ancient temples.

Kathak contains traces of temple and ritual dances, along with certain features of Persian and Central Asian dances. Intricate footwork and spins, as well as abhinaya, the art of expression, are the highlights of Kathak.

The name Kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word katha meaning story.

The most striking thing about Kathak in comparison with the other dance styles is the impression it creates of extreme subtlety.
— Rina Singha and Reginald Massey in 'Indian Dances: Their History and Growth'


  • Tāl: Rhythmic time-cycle.

  • Mātrā: Beat, Unit of measuring duration of a Tāl

  • Ᾱvartan: One cycle of a Tāl

  • Sam: The first beat of a Tāl 

  • Vibhāg: The divisions of a Tāl

  • Tāli: literally: ‘clap’. Used to show the accented beat in a Tāl.

  • Khāli: literally: ‘empty’. A blank beat, negative accent in a Tāl.

  • Tablā: A percussion instrument often used as an accompaniment to Kathak dance. It is comprised of two drums. 

  • Bol: A Bol is a sound or syllable. Helps identify and recite rhythms.

  • Thekā: Thekā is the Tablā bol for a Tāl.

  • Laya: Laya means tempo. Duration between beats determines Laya of a Tāl or a Tāl based composition.

  • Tatkār: Dance syllables produced from stomping. Basic footwork  for a Tāl.

  • Parhant: Recitation of bols of a composition indicating beats of a Tāl.

  • Torā: A group of bols or syllables that starts and ends on sam.

  • Kavitt: A Torā based on a poem. It is composed of bols that have meaning.

  • Tihāi: A rhythmic pattern that repeats three times.

  • Lari: A chain of footwork patterns, ends with a tihāi

  • Chakkar/ Pheri: literally: spin. The Chakkar in Kathak is performed on the heel. 




(1)  Aamad                          (a)  Persian word, which means “entrance”

(2)  Utpatti                                (b)  Base position with both hands in clasped position

(3)  Pushpak                             (c)  Literally means "Stage salutation"

(4)  Rangmanch Pranām        (d)  Both hands move up, make a complete twist rotation as they come down to Utpatti position

(5)  Madhya Hasta Chakra     (e)  One hand at utpatti, other extends on one side of the body, palm facing down.

(6)  Kavitt                                   (f)  Most other nritta hastaks start from this base position

(7)  Sthira                                  (g)  Hand moves forward and outward, travels sideways, tracing a circular path

(8)  Jugalbandi                         (h)  Composition based on a poem 

(9)  Naman                                 (i)  Shri Ishwari Prasād

(10) Founder of Lucknow Gharana          (j)  A duet or friendly competition