This Is What Life Is Like As A Male Kathak Dancer In Pakistan

By Aam Nawab | 6 Mar, 2017

I love the sound my ghungroo make, I love how it chimes every time it moves. That sound is almost therapeutic for me. 

That day I put the strings between my toes and tied my ghungroo around my ankles. After some 15, or so knots, rotations and whatnots, I was ready. I looked in the mirror and stared at myself as a kathak dancer. The black angrakha snaked around my waist and the churidaar clinged to my legs. The ghungroo were the perfectly rhytmic punctuation mark to my look.



I was just five when I saw my first dance and it completely floored me.

The way everyone is in sync like they’re all the same body, just in different parts. Every movement started together, ended together. My five year old self imagined that they even blinked together.

It was right after this when I told my parents that I wanted to take up kathak and things weren’t great.

Kathak? Pagal tou nahin ho? Waisay bhi tum larkay ho, ye tou larkiyon ka kaam hai bacha!’ 

The most I was allowed was those mehndi dances and nothing more. I tried to kathak it up whenever I could but I was never fulfilled. I wanted to move my body like those dancers I saw when I was 5.



My only saving grace was YouTube, I took in EVERY video I found and just copied what I watched.

My childhood naivety made me believe that I had become a kathak dancer just by those YouTube videos. But on one random dance mela at school my English teacher spotted my “fantastic” moves and she took me under her wing and taught me kathak after school. She was the kathak queen I needed in my life. I realized that everything I had learnt from my YouTube videos was NOTHING.


Let me tell you one thing – kathak is hard.  You need to move you feet at such a resoundingly high speed, you need to curve your back like you’ve never curved it before and all of it needs to look so effortless and beautiful. The audience must never know if you’re in discomfort.


Oh and btw, all of this was happening under my parents’ nose.

I wanted to learn kathak so bad and I wasn’t going to let them and whatever the hell these log think, stop me.

Another year, another dance mela and it was time to show off what I learned. I shook like I never shook before because my walidain would be in the audience, seeing me do what they told me to never do!

Dhin Ta Dha Dhin Taga Tin Tha

Via: Pinterest

The music played and every movement, from my feet to my arms felt perfect, felt like me! Every taal excited me more than the last. I twirled and swirled and let the beauty of the dance run through me. The euphoria and the joy gushed in every move I made.


Seeing the dance didn’t really pacify my parents qualms, they still had concerns, they still didn’t want me to persue it. 

The sad thing is I had to make a compromise. I accepted their worries and did what they wanted me to. Not that I hate it or anything but I miss dancing. Now I just sneakily take more classes, learn what all I can and pretend with them like dance is just a childhood passion of mine that died with age.

Where the ghungroo was my passion, now its a testament of my rebellion, a testament of me pushing my boundaries.



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