Kathak ranks among the major dance forms of India, of which there are eight. Other major dance forms include Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam, Manipuri, Oddisi and Sattriya. The three major gharanas (schools) of Kathak are Jaipur, Benaras and Lucknow.
Kathak, a temple art initially, was performed as an act of worshipping deities in Indian temples. Religious stories were narrated through dance in the temples and the performers were called Kathakars, until the art came to be known as Kathak. Dance, music and gesture were used to narrate the stories, and footwork is emphasized in this dance. Kathak gradually made a shift from temples to courts of Hindu and Muslim rulers.
In Kathak dance, the performer must develop a spiritual association with Earth to reach God. Tatkar, which is Kathak's basic footwork, includes more than the physical dimension; it concerns the power of energy. Energy generated at the soles of the feet while performing Kathak flows up to the crown of the head, streaming through all the body's cells. As energy reaches the crown, it harmonizes the body and soul, which is the very essence of yogic practice.