Bhakti Bells and Bollywood: Positioning Kathak Dance as a Religious Ritual in Urban India

  • Author(s): Hannah R. Stoltenberg
  • When: 2019-05
  • Where: University of Hawai'i at Manoa
  • The North Indian classical dance form of Kathak remains a prominent mode of artistic and cultural expression in the rapidly changing environments of urban India. As elements of the dance have been included in mediums of pop-culture, the traditional form and religious aspects have been maintained by practitioners in the midst of change. Kathak has inherent religious qualities and a rich cultural history intersecting with both Hindu and Muslim practices and ideologies. This dance form maintains it nature as a religious ritual relevant to a multiplicity of practitioners in the midst of significant historical changes and outside cultural influences through the balance of tradition and change in transmission. Examining the history and positioning of Kathak in religious thought and performance circles reveals the ritual relevancy for practitioners in urban settings. In the midst of change Kathak has not become an art form of the past or an entertainment driven dance form but fosters connections to culture, history, and spirituality providing practitioners with unique modes of engagement with art and transcendence.

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