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The word "Gharana" literally means "House" and it implies the house of the teacher. It is linked to the very ancient concept of the Guru-Shishya-Parampara (linage of teacher or disciple) but with some interesting modern twists.
The Gharanas of Kathak are as follows:
There are three major schools or gharanas of Kathak from which performers today generally draw their lineage: the gharanas of Jaipur, Lucknow and Benares (born in the courts of the Kachwaha Rajput kings, the Nawab of Oudh, and Varanasi respectively); there is also a less prominent (and later) Raigarh gharana which amalgamated technique from all three preceding gharanas but became famous for its own distinctive compositions.
Lucknow Gharana Kathak DanceThis gharana of Kathak actually developed in the courts of the Nawab of Oudh in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. It particularly gives importance to grace, elegance and natural expressions in the dance. Abhinaya or expressional acting, especially improvised, plays a very strong role in this style, and Birju Maharaj, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj were all famed for the naturalness of and innovativeness of their abhinaya.
Jaipur Gharana developed in the courts of the Kachchwaha kings of Jaipur in Rajasthan. The significance is placed on the more technical aspects of dance, such as complex and powerful footwork, multiple spins, and complicated compositions in different talas. There is also a greater incorporation of compositions from the Pakhawaj, such as, Parans.
Gopi Krishna is One of the most outstanding exponents of the Banaras Gharana of KathakThe Banaras Gharana was developed by Janakiprasad. It is characterized by the exclusive use of the Natwari or Dance bols, which are different from the tabla and the Pakhawaj bols. There are differences in the Thaat and Tatkaar, and Chakkars are kept at a minimum but are often taken from both the right- and the left-hand sides with equal confidence. There is also a greater use of the floor. Though the style developed in Varanasi, today it flourishes in Bikaner.
It was established by the Maharaja Chakradhar Singh in the princely state of Raigarh in Chhatisgarh in the early 20th century. The Maharaja invited many luminaries of Kathak (as well as famous percussionists) to his court, including, Kalka Prasad (the father of Acchan, Lacchu and Shambhu Maharaj) and his sons, and Pandit Jailal from Jaipur gharana. The confluence of different styles and artists created a unique environment for the development of new Kathak and tabla compositions created from various backgrounds.