The word Kathak has been derived from the word Katha which means a story. Kathakars or story-tellers, are people who narrate stories largely based on episodes from the epics, myths and legends. It probably started as an oral tradition. Mime and gestures were perhaps added later on to make the recitation more effective. Thus evolved a simple form of expressional dance, providing the origins of what later developed into Kathak as we see it today.
The technique is built by the use of an intricate system of foot-work. Pure dance (nritta) is all important where complex rhythmic patterns are created through the use of the flat feet and the control of sound of the ankle bells worn by the dancer. As in Bharatnatyam, Odissi and Manipuri, Kathak also builds its pure dance sequences by combining units of movement. The cadences are called differently by the names tukra, tora, and parana, all indicative of the nature of rhythmic patterns used and the percussion instrument accompanying the dance. The dancer commences with a sequence called That where soft gliding movements of the neck, eyebrows and the wrists, are introduced. This is followed by a conventional formal entry known as the Amad (entry) and the Salamii (salutation).
Today, Kathak has emerged as a distinct dance form. Being the only classical dance of India having links with Muslim culture, it represents a unique synthesis of Hindu and Muslim genius in art. Further, Kathak is the only form of classical dance wedded to Hindustani or the North Indian music. Both of them have had a parallel growth, each feeding and sustaining the other.
Sanjukta Chandra (Das) is a trained Kathak dancer and performer specialized in Lucknow Gharana style of Kathak. She started her Kathak taalim at a very young age under guru Pandit Samiran Das. She further continued her journey of learning under various notable personalities across India. Currently she is under keen guidance of Guru Archana Joglekar, an esteemed name in the world of cinema and Kathak.
Recipient of Coal-India scholarship for her notable performance in Kathak and winner of numerous inter-school and regional classical dance competitions, Sanjukta started teaching Kathak in Jacksonville few years back as her weekend hobby while finishing her MS degree in Electrical engineering. But her deep love for Indian classical dance and music made her take up Kathak as her primary profession.
She founded Institute for South Asian Art and Culture in the year 2016 with the only goal of imparting pure knowledge of various Indian classical dances, music, instruments and languages depicting India in its original form. As a performer and choreographer she has performed on many national and international platforms and have acquired various honorary recognition. Her students have performed successfully in various occasions within and outside Florida.