Mita Rana in Kathak Camp

Kathak Camp by Mita

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I attended a two-day intensive weekend Kathak camp led by Sonia Sabri Company. It was incredible to say the least. Other words that can also describe the experience are; nourishing, grounding, thought provoking, hard work, encouraging, informative, very well structured and planned, inspiring, motivating, exhilarating, healing…

Kathak Camp has always been an opportunity to connect and submerge oneself further into the relationship with Kathak. It also provides a sacred space where one can connect with others that share the same passion, love, and devotion for Kathak.

Exploring the theoretical aspect of Kathak captured my attention from an intellectual and academia stand point. It raised the importance of having a strong knowledge about names of Hastak’s, why we engage in body conditioning, parts of the anatomy, definitions within the Kathak Vocabulary, ISTD Syllabus etc.

The purpose of riyaaz was a memorable aspect of the intensive weekend. I found it reassuring to learn that the purpose of riyaaz is to break down Kathak into its finer detailed components and practise them until it’s flawless. Instilling ten thousand hours of muscle memory is an integral aspect of riyaaz. It was reassuring for my own practise of riyaaz as one can spend a number of hours ‘riyaazing’ and working on a Hastak or even a Thi Hai often obsessing over them and becoming curious (more often frustrated) if it is ‘normal’ to be so engrossed in such practise. Learning about riyaaz from my Guruji was reassuring as it opened my mind further and provided me with the direction that I needed.

We learnt how to practice and challenge the body, the type of exercises one can implement into their body conditioning and cool downs to support their growth in Kathak such as ‘twists’, plank, balance and use of core, etc.

We learnt how to implement hastaks in riyaaz according to the piece that we are learning such as an Ahmad, the type of hastaks that will prepare the body for it.

I value every aspect of the intensive weekend. The etiquette of being and how Kathak is the only form of dance that connects with nature, it teaches one how to be more mindful, it raises one’s self-awareness; it demonstrates how one can conduct themselves, it supports one to learn how to work together as a team and come together as a community and it supports one to acknowledge their feelings and to welcome feelings. The two-day intensive offered such wealth in life skills, raising one’s own self-awareness, becoming more body aware, and generally opening one’s eyes to the wider room and space.

The last intensive camp consisted of the Dheem and Bombay piece that we have been working on, the exam piece and the theory. We visited all the pieces and Sonia ji provided clarity with steps, positioning and spacing. We learnt the importance of where to look but most importantly Abhinaya, invoking a character and visualising the story that we are telling. This too brings us back to Kathak and the art of story-telling. I look forward to the next!

Kathak Camp is an annual event for Advanced level Kathak students. If you’re interested in joining and would like to find out more, email to express your interest.