Every Kathak fan or follower would know how integral the flowy, fluid silhouette of an Anarkali is to this majestic dance form. Whether it’s the grilling practice sessions, practical exams’ preparations or the coveted dance stage shows – these lovely frock-styled, flared or paneled Anarkalis are a must-have. So, if you are an avid Kathak lover, a dancer or are planning to learn this versatile art – we have some really handy suggestions for Anarkalis that have the right grace, elegance and ease – needed for any sort of Kathak performance or session.
Before we hop on to the classical dances’ costumes, let’s talk a little about it – so even the newbies are aware of the gorgeousness of these splendid moves.
Kathak is a stunning classical dance form from Northern India. Basis of many Bollywood casual dance sequences and groovy moves, Kathak is an immensely graceful and poetic art that first emerged as a way of story-telling. Since stories were enacted and retold, employing only expressions, hand gestures and eye movements – synchronized beautifully with music – this dance form is gorgeously expressive and emotionally eloquent.
Dressing for Kathak
These dancers had to dress in eye-catching costumes to ensure winning the audiences’ attention and interest. Expressions are also an extremely important part of these dance forms – in fact, Kathak is a lot about 9 Rasas – or broad 9 types of Human emotions. That’s why, from ancient times itself, Kathak dancers – or for that matter all classical and folk dancers – dressed in loud, eye catching ensembles, paired with heavy traditional jewelry and make-up (appropriate to the era and place). Prominent eye make-up is inherent to all classical dances for the same reason, says Kathak guru Shikha Chhangani, who runs a popular dance institution Tatkaar. The word tatkaar refers to the basic footwork in Kathak – which can have numerous simple and complicated variations, basis a variety of Talas (rhythmic musical notations) – and Layas (modulation).
Practised in the Mughal era and in the courts of Muslim and Indian emperors and Nawabs, this regal dance form draws heavily in style and art from these traditions. Thus, Kathak costumes and jewelry have a royal touch.
The costumes are also influenced by the Gharana or formal Divisions of this dance form. Kathak has 3 established Gharanas – Jaipur, Lucknow and Banaras. The divide also comes from religious beliefs of the major Kathak Gurus – which was either Hinduism or Islam.
Owing to myriad influences, Kathak costumes have undergone many changes, over the years. However, they have typically been lehenga choli or ghagra choli – and long, flowy silhouettes like Anarkali suits, or long Angarakhas kameez paired with churidaars – or in case of Lucknow gharana – trim pajamas or trousers. Sarees are also worn in Banaras Gharana – but they are pleated and pinned primly to allow for ease of movement.
Whatever dress is chosen by the dancers, the ease of movement, especially of the feet, is crucial. Fabrics, fit and flares also matter, and so does the ostentation. Something that would get entangled in the feet of the dancer is a no-no. Thus, despite being in fashion, floor-length suits are avoided by dancers – and even if they are chosen, the skirt length is decreased/ risen a bit. The lehenga flares are quite modest, and unless someone is really an accomplished dancer – it’s best to steer clear of tent-like, super flared or heavily paneled ghagras.
Most dancers tend to wear churidaar suits and salwar suits, while practicing the dance form on a regular basis. When performing on stage, most opt for ornate Anarkali dresses or easy to maneuver lehengas with cholis or Nawabi capes – paired with manageable, easy to drape and carry odhanis/ dupattas, which are pinned neatly.
15 Indian Suits – that are just perfect for female Kathak dancers
So, here we are finally! We bring you a hand-picked list of some really stylish – contemporary as well as traditional long Indian dresses, Abaya style suits and Anarakalis – some plain, some daintily embroidered or adorned, while others heavily embellished –
A. Fairy-light, fresh fashion picks – that will let you swirl to your heart’s content. Wear to special events or classes, when some special steps are on your agenda. Or, wear them for a special photo-op.
You can also get these in simple cotton or regular wear suits, which you can wear for your practice sessions or even during grueling exam run throughs – when you sweat profusely, not just because it’s hot!
B. Silvery Greys or Taupes – for surreal scenarios, when everything takes a starry quality. Perfect for stage performances and events, when the backgrounds are dark, and you want to stand out like a real star!
C. Nubile Neutrals – because an out-of-this-world performance is incomplete without the bling and shine of metallic golds and soothing steps of beiges and creams. Besides, this color palette goes well with all kinds of moods and lighting. So, they will suit well, irrespective of the time of a show or performance. Embellish heavily or add a colorful dupatta and bottom to bring in brightness, if you need any. This and the entire white/ grey and taupe palette is super in-vogue – so this is also a way to add a latest fashion quotient to your dance wardrobe.
Perfect for summers and humid months, these soothing neutrals, barring blacks, can be perfect for day time events too. Choose Lucknowi chikankari and lace fabrics to get a beautiful, light and ethereal Kathak costume. Choose gold, copper and antique brass look for night time events, though.
D. Stunning Solids – to make majestic statements on stage – that will be remembered for times to come, or be a special part of events, where people will be enamored by your regal presence. Pick costumes or ensembles that are all in same color from top to bottom to give the illusion of height and slimness. Go for deep, jewel toned dresses for this effect. You can always pair a dupatta in a different color or texture to break the monotony here.
E. High-end, High-fashion Picks – for those power performances, when you want the spotlights to be firmly trained on you! It would not always be that you wish to or are able to spend a bomb on your performance outfit – but when you can – it pays to go all out. Pick silhouettes, fabrics and colors that will stand the test of time. Buy from a trusted retailer like saree.com to ensure great quality and fit – so you can wear these regal and flattering outfits time and again – or whenever you need that extra bit of self assurance.
Hope you enjoyed browsing through these lovely picks. With these amazing ethnic suits, your Kathak or any dance lessons and performances will get even more interesting – we promise!
Do let us know of your feedback in comments section. Let us know how you looked at your special Kathak event. Share your lovely pictures at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to do dedicated stories on you. Love!