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Art Alert: India's Kathak dance to tour Egypt

Indian actress and dancer Prachee Shah and her troupe will visit Cairo, Alexandria and Beni Suef to perform one of India's classical dances

Ahram Online , Monday 20 Jul 2015
Prachee Shah
Prachee Shah performs during Elephanta Festival in Mumbai (Photo: still from YouTube)
Views: 2467
Views: 2467

Accompanied by a group of musicians, Prachee Shah, India's highly acclaimed Kathak dancer, will give three shows in Egypt- in Cairo, Alexandria and Beni Suef.

Prachee has given over 200 performances in India, USA, UK and South Africa and has garnered numerous awards and recognitions, including titles such as ‘Sringarmani’ and ‘Nritya Urvashi’ which are given to the best dancers in the field. She is also a very popular face on Indian television, having acted in a number of popular soap operas.

Kathak dance is no stranger to Egyptian audiences. In 2014, another 'singarmani', Marami Medhi, graced the stages of Cairo and Alexandria, performing in the second edition of India by the Nile, the multidisciplinary annual festival bringing Indian arts to Egypt. With Prachee's performance however, it will be the first time for Kathak or any other classical dance coming from India to be introduced to the audiences of Beni Suef, a city located 120 km south of Cairo.

Prachee Shah will be accompanied by Shripad Jail on tabla, Farooque Khan on sarangi (bowed string instrument), vocalist Sraboni Chaudhuri, as well as Guru Ganesh Hiralal on harmonium and during padhant (a kind of recitation). 

Kathak classical dance is linked to Kathakars (storytellers) from northern India, particularly Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan. Kathakars retell the religious and mythological epics through gestures that eventually metamorphosed into dance. Originating inside the temples, in the 16th century when India was under Mughal rule, Kathak moved to become courtly entertainment for the Muslim princes and sultans. As such, among the crucial characteristics of Kathak is the dance's influence from the two religions: Hinduism and Islam and their incorporation into one of India's most remarkable classical dance forms.

Just like the rest of photogenic India, Kathak is visually attractive. The dancer remains upright in standing position, maintaining a straight backbone most of the time, with the body weight distributed along the horizontal and vertical axes. A lot of stress is placed on the movements of the hands, rhythmic steps of flat feet and -- in numerous compositions and sequences -- the sound emanating from the ankle bells worn by the dancer.


UPDATE: The performance is cancelled in Beni Suef and Alexandria, due to the India's state mourning following the passing of the former president APJ Abdul Kalam. The Cairo performance will take place as scheduled, on 3 August


Thursday 30 July, 7.30pm

Alexandria Creativity Centre, Raml Station, Alexandria

Saturday 1 August, 7.30pm
Beni Suef Cultural Centre

Monday 3 August, 7.30pm
Sayed Darwish Theatre, Academy of Arts, off Haram Street, Cairo

Entry to the events in Alexandria and Bani Suef will be on a first-come basis and entry to the show in Cairo will be by free invitation to be collected from Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture, Zamalek, Cairo.

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