“Kathak is widely used to express social issues”
- JWB Post
- November 13, 2014
‘धा धा’ of the tabla along with the rhythmic sound of Ghungroo can refresh every soul hearing it. We met Jaipur Gharana’s very own Swati Agarwal – a Kathak dancer and Founder of Indian Institute of Kathak, Dance & Music (IIKDM). Read our small chat with the artist talking about her passion, importance of this dance form and future of the classical dance.
JWB – Hello, dear Swati. Tell us how you developed interest in Kathak? Did it come after exploring other areas of life?
Swati – My mom forced me to learn Kathak dance form, when I was in class 2. I just didn’t want to dance and would drag myself into the classes. But gradually I developed love for it. Today, it’s my passion I would never want to abandon.
JWB – Do you believe that a Kathak Artist has responsibility towards the society?
Swati – Jaipur is still not well-acquainted with this art, and I think, it is the mission of dancers like me to let the maximum people know how beautiful Kathak is. We, in true sense, hold a great responsibity to keep this dance form alive for future generations. Moreover, Kathak is widely used to express social issues too. Just few days back – I, along with other dancers, performed a story on environmental pollution and girl education.
JWB – What goes through your mind when you are dancing?
Swati – Definitely, to perform best since everyone is staring at you on the stage. (laughs)
JWB – Was Kathak originally the dance of the elites or it was performed for the elites?
Swati – Kathak dance was originated from the story-telling sessions in temples of the ancient times. When Mughals came, they took the performers along, hence making them full-time dancers performing in the royal courtyards. The tawaifs were well-mannered and extremely talented. They were given proper honor.
JWB – What change have you noticed in a way the young generation perceives Kathak dance these days? What their biggest misconception?
Swati – They think this dance form is slow and boring. Trust me, it is not. You can combine some contemporary steps with Kathak and form a fusion dance. It is such a fresh take.
JWB – Men as Kathak dancers. Is it still a taboo?
Swati – In Jaipur, yes. In other metro cities, no. Although it shouldn’t be a taboo because history has it that we had more male Kathak dancers in the beginning. Kathak needs a lot of stamina, and men can do it with ease. I have seen many male students in Delhi who love Kathak and are regular with its practice. Some of them are ready to take it as a profession.
JWB – Is there anything else we need to know to fully enjoy Kathak?
Swati – Many steps (mudras) in Kathak are acupuncture-friendly. Moreover, Kathak is one of the best cardio exercises to keep you healthy and in shape.
JWB – Future of Kathak in Jaipur. Do you think Jaipurites are music and dance lovers/admirers?
Swati – They are. After all, we belong to the rich heritage of Rajasthan. You will be surprised to see my students who are as young as 5 yrs and older than 50 yrs. I hope Rajasthan University will soon add Kathak as one of its mainstream subjects to promote it among young generation.
JWB – Lastly, what is the difference between Swati on stage and Swati at home?
Swati – No difference, I would say. Kathak is a blend of expressions which are easy to understand. My family, especially my husband, are very supportive, and we talk a lot about classical music and dance forms. Kathak is always close to my heart.