Navinayaka – an enchanting kathak performance by Pali Chandra


Pali Chandra as Navinayika - Kathak Performance

Traditional Kathak performance depicting a story of a woman’s transformation from Ashtanayika to Navinayika – Todays new woman.


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The beautiful and stylized technique of Kathak was on display on Thursday 29thOctober at DUCTAC where Pali Chandra presented a flawless performance of Kathak dance – Navinayika, adapted from “Ashtanayika” by Bharat Muni.

Kathak is a popular dance style hailing from Northern India. The emphasis is on footwork matched to the beats and music, graceful (nazakat) hand and eye moments accompanied with (act with expressions) abhinaya. The four pillars of Kathak are – Tatkaar, Hastak, Chaal and Chakkar combined together make Thaat,  Aamad, Paran, Tukda, Tihai and Ladi.

Footwork matched to the beats and music

Footwork matched to the beats and music

Sufiana Kathak

Sufiana Kathak

Pali Chandra as Navinayika

Pali Chandra as Navinayika

In the first half of the performance, Guru Pali showcased the techniques of Paramparagat Kathak (Traditional Kathak) which started with deity prayers, followed by complex techniques with instruction and demonstration and eventually an entrancing experience of Sufiana Kathak with Dama Dam Mast Qalandar in the background.

Guru Pali termed the instructions as “ Precious jewels” that were passed to her from her Gurus (teachers), first she explained the technique with a display of rhythmic skill and the era from which it was inspired. The musicians then sent out bols (vocal chants) with cycles of beats that Guru Pali, then translated into a powerful display of footwork, magnified by her Ghunghrus (a musical anklet). Teamed with her onstage were 7 accomplished Indian musicians i.e.

Padhant: Guru Shikha Khare
SingersKamalakant & Manjusha Mishra
Tabla: Rajeev Shukla 

Pakhavaj: Shashikant Pathak
Sitar: Naveen Mishra
Flute: Deependra Kunwar.

In the second half the story of Navinayika was dominated by a solo performance of Guru Pali Chandra. Choreographed by Guru Pali Chandra and Guru Shikha Khare, the story is inspired by Ashtanayika which is then evolved into finding the deep-rooted cultural perspective and then relating it to today’s Navinayika (new woman). 

The story revolves around a woman who experiences various stages in her life from meeting her beloved to feelings of rejection and then reuniting. The eight stages are Vasaksajja (Dressing up for beloved), Virhotkanthita (Anxiety and fear of separation), Abhisarika (Retaliation), Vipralabdha (Deceived by her lover), Proshitbhurtruka (Demotivated), Khandita (Anger of rejection) and Kalahantarita (Feeling of remorse), Swadheenbhurtruka (Free and confident). The final sequence is about the Navinayika which is the new or the ninth Nayika, depicted as a complete person, satisfied with her life. She is ready to celebrate and pass on the tradition to her next generation, her Shishya (followers).

Stage for Navinayika

Each stage of the Nayika was detailed and the audience saw an exemplary performance, choreography and back stage coordination. The entire performance had 13 costume changes which created the wow effect. The onstage live musicians with live instrument added more appeal and kept the interest level of the audience on the higher side.

The performance showcased Guru Pali’s, training, skills and expertise in the choreographies. There was a beautiful merge of very famous songs depicting the different emotions of the Nayika like Aaaj Jane ki Zid na karo (Film: Monsoon Wedding), Ka karoon Sajni aye na balam (Film: Swami), Aaoge jab tum o saajna (Film: Jab we met), Jo Main Jaanti Bisrat Hain Saiyyan (Film: Shabab), Prem Jogan (Film: Mughal-e-Azam) and many more, which was a bridge between the traditional way of presentation and the liking of the present day audience.

Pali Chandra is the artistic Director of Gurukul, a renowned dance institute in Dubai. She is an internationally acclaimed exponent of Indian classical dance form Kathak. She has been recognized for her outstanding performances worldwide and has been awarded the prestigious Lachhu Maharaja Award.

Team UrCuppaLife gives a SuperLike to Gurukul for bringing to Dubai the richness of Indian culture through its arts, and raising young and talented artists. We strongly recommend watching Navinayika by Guru Pali Chandra to all Kathak lovers. We look forward for more cultural shows from Gurukul and its students.

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