Tuesday 5 March 2024

Kathak draped in a different sensibility - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

The program at Narthaki Studio was called Leela, dedicated to Anita Ratnam's late mother, a driving force encouraging Jigyasa Giri's dance urges, while having to deal with Kathak finding a place in Madras - the land of Bharatanatyam. Late Sohanlal from the Jaipur gharana and Maya Rao (from whom Jigyasa imbibed a great deal), a student of Shambhu Maharaj, did settle in South India propagating Kathak. But what Jigyasa Giri, whose initial training was under late Krishna Kumar Dharwa of Benares gharana, referred to in the program as Dakshina gharana Kathak, was in reality Kathak with a sensibility catering to South Indian audiences. There was none of the high pitched jawab/saval, tabla versus peir ka kaam rhythmic razzmatazz, nor frequent sojourns to the microphone with announcements and parhant, nor spinning of marathon countless pirouettes - all of which virtuosity, is a legitimate feature of this dance form. Instead, what Jigyasa, who since 2001 has been teaching students in her school in Chennai, Devaniya established in 2009 has achieved, is in bringing to her dance an enhanced texture of flowing grace and poetic delicacy, without compromising on its classicism and technical exactitude.

Read more in the site

Please provide your name / email id along with your comment. Anonymous and derogatory comments will be removed.


  1. Lavanya B (DEVANIYA) lavanyab78@gmail.com5 March 2024 at 22:05

    Valuable insights accompanied with beautiful feedback. Loved it❤️

  2. Varsha Varma varsha_vparchitects@yahoo.co.in7 March 2024 at 09:57

    ‘All’ the nuances of Kathak are expressed so beautifully here, in one breath.
    Growing up in UP, I used to watch Kathak shows often and I remember that as a teenager, I went back home sometimes feeling ‘I wanted to see more Kathak!’ What I wished for was a composition of Kathak besides the ‘to and fro mike renditions’ as Leela ji puts it. As an adult also, I have gone back home after watching Kathak concerts feeling ‘Oh, I wish there would have been more movement in the performance’ (when there was a lot of footwork).
    Reading this review made me understand why and how the audience felt that the Devaniya performance was complete with padhant-footwork-rhythm-abhinaya all flowing into each other.
    And all of us, Devaniyans, have got this opportunity to experience and learn this wholesomeness of Kathak! I feel so grateful for that.

  3. When a great river gushes with abundance,
    it is but natural that it forks out into tributaries that take a course of their own,
    carrying the same water of the mighty source.
    Devaniya’s commitment to cross cultural synergy is the base of its changing course from the mighty river - the canvas of Kathak.
    And moving south, it has gained its own unique momentum, retaining always the original flavour, a happy drop in the grand ocean of the arts.

    And then, when someone as learned and masterful as Leela Venkatraman ji notices every nuance, appreciates every effort, and pens it down in her inimitable straightforward style, what can one call it but an absolute blessing?

    I thank you Leela ji, on behalf of myself, and every student of Devaniya. Thank you Narthaki.com for the opportunity 🙏

  4. As a person who has grown in Chennai I have always witnessed on Bharatanatyam shows. It is very welcoming and enriching to see kathak being welcomed by Chennai under Jigyasa maam's able guidance. The article has beautifully pointed out about the Dakshin Gharana style incorporated by Devaniya. Wishing Jigyasa maam and Devaniya more such accolades in the heart of Bharatnatyam land. Thanks to Anita Ratnam maam for giving us a chance to view this and to Leela maam for a thought provoking article