Handbook & FAQs
- Required class attire includes kurta and pajama (Indian shirt and pants), and a set of ghungru (ankle bells).
- Students must refrain from eating, drinking, or chewing gum during class. Water is permitted, but we ask that students bring their own water bottle to class.
- Any outside video or audio recording of our classes is strictly prohibited.
- Masking is encouraged for all in-person students, regardless of vaccination status.
- Proof of vaccination is no longer required.
- All in-person students are required to abide by our updated safety measures and code of conduct.
- Overall, we expect students to show respect to their teacher, be courteous to all fellow students, and approach learning with sincerity and enthusiasm by practicing at home and during breaks.
Additional policies regarding performances, classroom protocol, and evaluations can be viewed in the Student Handbook.
Have questions about Kathak Dance and KDT’s school policies? Look below for answers to most frequently asked questions.
What is Kathak dance?
Kathak (pronounced “Kah-tahk”) is a form of Indian classical dance that originated thousands of years ago as a form of sharing stories, myths, and Hindu scripture. It is characterized by abstract dance (Nritta) and expressive dance (Nritya). Kathak technique includes gestural movements, rhythmic footwork, pirouettes, and other techniques such as Thaat, Amad, Tukda, Paran, and Tatkaar that span the range of rhythmic to lyrical.
It is an expressive storytelling dance using a 4-fold system of expression (Abhinaya): through head/face/body/limbs/hand gestures (Angika), words/syllables/vocal music (Vachika), costumes, accessories, use of ankle bells (Ahariya) and state of mind (Bhava) resulting in an emotion providing aesthetic character (Rasa) that is physically expressed (Sattvika). While there are four schools (or “gharanas”) of Kathak, KDT specializes in the Lucknow gharana, which strongly focuses on the dance form’s emotional expressiveness. Accordingly, KDT encourages self-expression and creativity in the classroom.
Why should I enroll at KDT?
KDT was founded by Rita Mustaphi, one of Kathak’s leading performers and choreographers. Since founding KDT over three decades ago, she has consistently been at the forefront of Kathak’s cultural preservation, as well as its development as an art form. She is a disciple of the late Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj, who frequently led KDT master classes and workshops over the years. Under Rita’s guidance as Master Teacher, our school offers world-class Kathak education for dancers of all ages and abilities, with levels ranging from introductory to advanced. Our school gives students a rare opportunity to learn not just from accomplished dancers, but from masters of the craft.
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, we offered exclusively online classes. However, we intend to maintain an in-person/virtual hybrid system going forward. This means that students worldwide now have access to our educational programs, increasing our accessibility and impact.
Who teaches at KDT?
Our talented and supportive teaching staff is comprised solely of members of our professional dance company. Our teachers have decades of dance experience, have performed at the prestigious Khajuraho Classical Dance Festival and others, shared the stage with Pandit Birju Maharaj and Vidushi Saswati Sen, and even began as KDT students themselves. Read more about them here.
Where are you located?
We offer classes for dancers of all ages at our St. Louis Park studio. We also offer virtual learning opportunities for every class, a practice that began when the coronavirus pandemic shut down all in-person activities.
What benefits will I get from Kathak that I won’t from other forms of dance?
- Kathak improves one’s coordination and balance: performing complex movements with grace and subtlety requires strength, stamina, and hand-eye coordination.
- It promotes flexibility, agility and grace: like all dance practices, Kathak requires dancers to be limber and fluid movers in order to capture the form’s inherent elegance.
- It establishes strong mind-body connections: Kathak requires students to be aware of their body alignment at all times, and the act of memorizing choreography benefits one’s memory and mental acuity.
- It promotes artistic expression and creativity: Kathak’s emphasis on storytelling encourages self-expression.
- It provides students with cultural context and knowledge: because Kathak is so embedded within North Indian culture, Kathak education incorporates historical and cultural concepts along with abstract concepts that deepens students’ connections to the form.
It relieves stress and boosts confidence: like all forms of physical activity, Kathak provides dancers with an emotional and physical outlet. It also encourages poise and assuredness both in the classroom and onstage.
What is your school’s yearly schedule?
Our schedule follows that of a typical school year. The year begins with a Fall session from September-November, followed by a Winter session from December-February and ending with a Spring session from March-May. Our Summer session offers a shorter class session June-July, and is followed by a two-week August intensive only open to returning students.
How old must my child be to take your classes?
We ask that children be at least 6 years old before they start training with us in order to ensure that they have developed the body awareness and coordination necessary to execute Kathak’s structured, classical movements (i.e. knowing left from right).
What is your class placement policy?
Our teachers reserve the right to determine class placement for each student. Criteria for class placement include students’ experience level, ability, and class evaluations from the previous year, if applicable. Class advancement is slow, with some students spending more than one school year at each level. Teachers also must sign off on any mid-session transfers, schedule changes, etc. Class progression normally proceeds as follows:
May I or my child try out a class before we enroll?
Yes! At the beginning of our Summer, Fall and Winter sessions, new students are welcome to take the first class for free before they register. We also usually offer a free 45-minute trial class to prospective students before the start of each session. Just check our calendar for class times and join our email list to hear about free class opportunities.
When does enrollment start, and how do I enroll?
Enrollment begins a few weeks ahead of the start of each session. Our enrollment procedure is now a one-step process. Choose your class and fill out the corresponding registration form, which finishes with a tuition payment submission. Registration helps us keep our records up-to-date so we are able to keep lines of communication open between our staff and students.
What is your tuition policy?
Students may either pay for the entire session up front or by the class. Per-class payments are only permitted if the student plans to not attend the entire 10-week session, and must be arranged by emailing email@example.com. If a student’s payment is not submitted before the due date, it is subject to a $10 late fee. Prices are as follows, noting that electronic payments include a small processing fee:
I am a parent of one of your students. May I observe my child’s class?
In order to keep our studio space distraction-free, we kindly ask that parents and family members do not observe our in-person classes. However, we do allow parents to observe the final class of each session. The same rules apply to virtual classes––we ask that parents only observe and/or record the final class of each session.
We are working on developing opportunities for families to attend informal performances at our St. Louis Park studio once it is safe to do so.
Do you have a dress code?
Yes. Kathak is a classical dance form and requires the following personal grooming methods and attire:
- We ask that you tie your hair off of your face before class, either in a ponytail or braid. If you have short hair, use secure clips.
- Please wear clothing that is breathable and comfortable. Your clothes should allow you to achieve maximum range of motion and see your own body line in the mirror. It should also respect the Indian dance etiquette regarding hemlines and sleeve length. Recommended attire includes Indian Salwar/Kameez or Churidar/Kameez and/or Dupatta. Tank tops, shorts and jeans are not permitted.
Make sure that you own a set of ankle bells and tie them properly and securely before each class so that you will not hurt yourself. Ghungru are sacred to Indian dance and should not be worn with shoes. Dancers must be barefoot – socks are not allowed. KDT recommends that students purchase their ghungru on Amazon.com or another third-party seller
What are your policies regarding classroom etiquette?
All in-person students must follow our post-COVID-19 student code of conduct. Further, students must refrain from eating, drinking, or chewing gum during class. Water is permitted, but we ask that students bring their own water bottle to class. Any outside video or audio recording of our classes is strictly prohibited.
Overall, we expect students to show respect to their teacher, be courteous to all fellow students, and approach learning with sincerity and enthusiasm by practicing at home and during breaks.
Do you offer scholarships? If so, who is eligible?
Yes, we offer scholarships on a limited basis to students who demonstrate financial need as well as talent and/or commitment to KDT. They are awarded at the sole discretion of Katha Dance Theatre and are subject to available funding. Requests for financial assistance must be emailed to the Office before submitting one’s tuition payment.
Do KDT students perform in any recitals or special events?
Yes. KDT’s school year ends in May with Sadhana, an annual student showcase. Students must attend at least two sessions in order to perform in Sadhana, although attendance at all three sessions is encouraged in order for students to fully participate. Students who have only attended two sessions may participate in Sadhana at the discretion of their instructor.
Apart from Sadhana, students have the opportunity to participate in our annual celebration of Saraswati Puja and Basant Panchami, which we co-host with the Hindu Society of Minnesota. Students who participate in our two-week Summer Intensive are able to learn an entire dance sequence, which they have opportunities to perform at various cultural events (like Durga Puja or Diwali) throughout the year.
What is your recital fee?
All students who perform in Sadhana are required to pay a recital fee of $20.
I am interested in volunteering with KDT. How can I do that?
Join our email list! We will communicate about any volunteer opportunities as they arise. All students and parents are encouraged to be active members of the community by volunteering.
I am a KDT student. How do I become an apprentice?
High-achieving students who have shown an impressive level of commitment and talent in the classroom may be invited by Rita Mustaphi to become a company apprentice. Apprentices perform with the company on an as-needed basis until they are chosen to join the Company ranks. If you are interested in a KDT apprenticeship, demonstrate your dedication by being an active participant in class and out of it – practice, practice, practice!
I would like more information. Do you have a student handbook?
Yes! Read it here. And if you have any further questions, contact us!
Ready to Sign-up for Class?
View our class schedule and enroll now!
Have more questions?
Don’t hesitate to email us!