Traditionally, Kathak is a solo art form, requiring the dancer to take full command of the stage and be highly skilled and versatile in all aspects of the dance: tayari (stunning technique in footwork, pirouettes and movement); layakari (virtuosity of complex rhythms); khoobsurti and nazaakat (beauty and subtlety of movement and expression); gat bhao and abhinaya (the art of mime, expression, and storytelling).
Rachna brings a fierce passion and energy to her performances, displaying the depth of her training under Pandit Das. The pure thrill of the traditional Kathak solo comes from upaj (improvisation) – one never knows what will come next! Accompanied by live North Indian classical musicians, a solo performance takes the audience on a dynamic journey of dance, rhythm, music, and drama.
Bhakti - A Woman’s liberation through Love
Rachna Nivas’ new solo work, Bhakti (devotion), is based on the life of the Hindu female mystic and paramount figure of the Bhakti Movement, Meerabai. This 16th century medieval princess single-handedly defies her role in a starkly patriarchal society by rejecting her husband and becoming completely immersed in her devotion to Krishna, the famed Indian deity representing consciousness. Through her lyrical poetry, she expresses her intensifying love for Krishna, deeming him as her sole beloved. Her defiance of her role as a woman, princess, and wife, spurs threats and attempts on her life. However, Meera never falthers from her path of seeking spiritual liberation from the mortal world of violence, slavery of women, and misguided pursuit of worldly desires (maya).
“Nivas’ choreography interwove girlish lyricism and sophisticated syncopation. Nivas’ Meerabai was by turns glamorous and writhing – and just as commanding was Nivas’ contemptuous swagger as the displeased husband.” – San Francisco Chronicle