World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Tarangini School of Kathak Dance wtih Pandit Birju Maharaj and Saswati Sen

GENRE: Kathak
First Appearance in SF EDF: 1996

Tarangini School of Kathak Dance was established in 1992 to preserve and promote knowledge and awareness of the Lucknow style of North Indian kathak. Founder and Artistic Director Anuradha Nag began training at age four in India with Nataraj Parimal Krishna, and later studied with veteran gurus including Pandit Birju Maharaj, Srimati Kalanidhi Narayanan and Pandit Vijai Shankar. Company members have worked with Anuradha Nag for ten to fourteen years, attended workshops with Pandit Birju Maharaj, and performed kathak all over the Bay Area. Tarangini supports creative self-expression for all ages, through stage and television programs for organizations and schools, artist-in-residence performances and workshops, and classes in Fremont, San Jose, and Sunnyvale.


GENRE: Kathak
TITLE: Mere Dholna (My Beloved)
DANCERS: Nikita Bhatnagar, Akruti Gupta, Sumati Hasani, Prachi Joshi, Mahika Rangnekar, Ambika Rustagi, Isha Salian, Sonia Tagare, Shivalee Talati, Ashna Thaker

Choreographer Anuradha Nag presents Mere Dholna, My Beloved, a North Indian kathak performance. The piece is danced to a Bollywood song that sings of love:

My beloved, listen to the melody of my love. You are in every particle of my body. The jingling of my bangles brings you back to me.

Kathak is one of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance. It has two principal forms of expression: abhinaya, the gestured storytelling aspect; and nritta, the pure dance form. Mere Dholna is a nritta choreography; it emphasizes the technical repertoire. This is an example of the Lucknow school of kathak, known for its grounded, sensuous, and subtle style and its spontaneous solos. Dancers stand in straight-legged position with toes pointing out. They stamp their feet in rhythmic play, splitting the time-cycle into triplets or quintuplets. Then, with a single step on the heel, they swiftly pirouette in timed unison.

Kathak has both Hindu and Muslim roots.An ancient Sanskrit text (3rd century BCE) notes that the kathakar’s “duty is dance for the divine peoples.” Long ago, ancient kathakars recited sacred epics in Hindu temples. Gradually they added gestures, embellishments, and created a refined dance. Eventually, in the 16th century, Muslim Moghuls, brought kathak dancers into their courts, and the style took on influences—such as dervish-like spins—from Persia and Central Asia. It was then that it separated stylistically from other classical forms.

Kathak tradition has been passed down through gurus, evolving into two schools, or gharanas. And the form is still passed down. Living legend Guru Pandit Birju Maharaj, whose ancestors danced in the 19th-century Mohgul courts in the city of Lucknow, is a seventh-generation torchbearer of the Lucknow gharana. He has passed his cultural expertise to Anuradha Nag and her company dancers thanks to his senior disciple Saswati Sen. We are honored to have both of these extraordinary artists grace our stage as we highlight the lineages of cultural traditions this anniversary season.

This piece was created by choreographer Anuradha Nag. In order to merge sixteen-beat kathak dance with fourbeat Bollywood song, Anuradha asked Indian musicians to meticulously re-record the song, adding kathak rhythmic words called bols.

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