Comparing dance forms: Bharatnatyam and Kathak

Both Bharatnatyam and Kathak are classical dance forms of India. Although many similarities are witnessed in both the dance forms, there exist many differences also.

Bharatnatyam is a south Indian dance form, originated in the state Tamil Nadu. Bharatnatyam is often conveyed by various classical Tamil songs and music. Whereas, Kathak is an north Indian dance form.

Temple dancers usually performed Bharatnatyam, followed by Carnatic music. Later, these dancers performed for South Indian kings. Kathak was usually performed for Muslim kings.

Bharatnatyam is performed based on the stories of Lord Shiva, and Kathak is evolved from the stories of Radha and Krishna. In Kathak dance form, when a dancer performs Lord Krishna’s part he closes his eyes while dancing in order to portray a dream sequence, which is very interesting to watch.

Bharatnayam dance form is performed wearing unique jewelry and costumes. The dancers wear such dresses, which do not restrict their movements. The costumes of Bharatnatyam are majestic. Costumes worn in Bharatnatyam also include heavy face and hair makeup, which enhances the entire costume. In comparison, Kathak performers have typically worn sari (for female) and dhoti (for male). But nowadays, kathak performers often prefer to wear long skirts and tops, which according to the dancers, captivates the audience.

In conclusion, the costumes worn by Bharatnatyam dancers are very grand while those worn by Kathak dancers are very simple. Musical instruments used in Kathak dance are tabla, sarangi, sarod and so on. Whereas, instruments used in Bharatnatyam dance forms are mridangam, nagaswaram, and veena. The tunes and lyrics of both the dance forms vary to a hefty extent.

Photo of Kathak dance costume.


photo of Bharatnatyam dance costume.

dancer 1

The above link describes the Kathak Mahotsav held in Canada Aug. 18 to Aug. 20, 2011. Organized by Rina Singha dance organization. Such events helps in making an Indian classical dance form internationally known.

Photo credits “Madhu VFX”

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