Rani Khanam is one of the foremost Kathak exponents of India. With her immense talent, a total belief in herself and the courage to follow her intuition, she is a highly respected Kathak dancer and choreographer today. Rani Khanam trained under Pandit Birju Maharaj and Reba Vidyarthi for 15 years. She graduated with top honours in the Lucknow Style.
Rani has also become the first Muslim dancer to perform choreography based on Islamic verses, to highlight how Hindu art forms fused with the Islamic during the Mughal period in India. For excellence in her field Rani Khanam has been honoured with many awards.
She has been performing regularly in reputed national and international festivals for two decades and has directed and choreographed many dance productions that have been internationally acclaimed. At present she is the Director of Aamad Academy where she conducts master classes. A respected Guru, Rani Khanam has cultivated and groomed some of the finest Kathak dancers in India & abroad. She is received one of the prestigious award ACC Fellowship Grant from New York for World Dance and Islamic Culture.
Kathak (Hindi: कथक, Urdu: کتھک) is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dances, originated from northern India. This dance form traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathaks, or storytellers. These bards, performing in village squares and temple courtyards, mostly specialized in recounting mythological and moral tales from the scriptures, and embellished their recitals with hand gestures and facial expressions. It was quintessential theatre, using instrumental and vocal music along with stylized gestures, to enliven the stories. Its form today contains traces of temple and ritual dances, and the influence of the bhakti movement. From the 16th century onwards it absorbed certain features of Persian dance and Central Asian dance which were imported by the royal courts of the Mughal era.
There are three major schools or gharanas of Kathak from which performers today generally draw their lineage: the gharanas of Jaipur, Lucknow and Banaras (born in the courts of the Kachwaha Rajput kings, the Nawab of Oudh, and Varanasi respectively); there is also a less prominent (and later) Raigarh gharana which amalgamated technique from all three preceding gharanas but became famous for its own distinctive compositions.
The name Kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word katha meaning story, and katthaka in Sanskrit means s/he who tells a story, or to do with stories. The name of the form is properly कत्थक katthak, with the geminated dental to show a derived form, but this has since simplified to modern-day कथक kathak. kathaa kahe so kathak is a saying many teachers pass on to their pupils, which is generally translated, 's/he who tells a story, is a kathak', but which can also be translated, 'that which tells a story, that is Kathak'.