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Friday, May 8, 2009

A traditional dance form from India's north

Staff writer

Dancers swathed in colorful silk saris with bells jangling from their ankles will perform a passionate and exotic dance form from northern India in Tokyo on May 12 and 13 in an event titled "Amurut Manthan #2," organized by an Indian-dance group based in the capital.

The classical dance form, Kathak, which used to be performed in the palaces of the Mogul Empire (1526-1858), was originally a religious ritual staged at Hindu temples before it became entertainment for the ruling elite.

While only male dancers performed Kathak in the Mogul era, women began to take part in the 1930s, when the dance also became popular among the public, according to the group. By then, however, the dance had already developed into a theatrical art form during the time of British rule on the subcontinent, between the 17th century and 1947.

Atsuko Maeda, a Japanese Kathak dancer who is the leader of the group and learned the dance in Japan and India, says that a characteristic of Kathak is the rhythmic movement.

"The dancers wear 100 small bells called ghungroos on each of their ankles and make sounds by stepping. The combination of the sounds of the bells and Indian drums will attract the audience," Maeda says.

Another characteristic of Kathak is the facial expressions and gestures of the dancers, Maeda says, explaining that the performers convey messages to the audience by these means.

"Amurut Manthan #2" takes place from 8 p.m. on May 12, 2 p.m. on May 13 and 7 p.m. on May 13 at Rakuen near Shimokitazawa Station on the Inokashira and Odakyu lines. Tickets are ¥2,800 in advance and ¥3,000 at the door. For details, visit kathak.web.fc2.com/

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