1. Watch an example of Kathak dance

View an example of Kathak dance, a traditional form of Indian dance. The name Kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word katha meaning story; the dancer tells a story through the dance sequence. Expressive motion, rhythmic accuracy, graceful turning, poised stances, technical clarity, hand gestures and subtle expression are important components of modern Kathak.

  • Use of gesture
  • Costume
  • Rhythm
  • Movement vocabulary

This topic could be further investigated with practical workshops/ demonstration/ research where available.

2. Compare Kathak and Bhangra dance

If teachers want to explore more than one dance tradition, show students the Bhangra song and dance clip from Voices and Visions of India. Have students compare bhangra with Kathak dance. This could be done through using a Venn Diagram

3. What is tradition?

Discussion of what is understood by the term ‘tradition’. This could include what is already known about
  • Indian dance
  • Spiritual beliefs
  • Values
  • Regions

4. Research a form of Indian dance

If time permits, have students research forms of Indian dance. Focus searches could include:
  • Classical Indian dance with particular reference to Kathak dance
  • Other forms of traditional Indian dance
  • Bhangra
  • Origins of the Bollywood genre

5. Kabhi Khushi Kahbie Gham

View the first section from Kabhi Khushi Kahbie Gham. Discuss the influence of ceremony and ritual in this dance. The dance traditions of cabaret, funk and ballroom influence the dancing shown in this film.

6. 'Say Shava Shava'

View the ‘Say Shava Shava’ sequence from Kabbi Khushi Kabhie Gham:

Contrast these sections of the dance with the ‘traditional’ village scenes shown in the film or scenes shown in the Bhangra segment from Voices and Visions of India.


    • What influences do you think global popular culture may have had on the development of Bollywood dance/films.
    • What influences have Bollywood traditions had on Western popular music.

7. Relationships in the film and cultural tradition

The tile of the film Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham might be translated as ‘It's All About Loving Your Parents’ and it explores the tensions which erupt when the disrupted expectations of a father about his son’s marriage. The older son chooses to marry a lower class girl for love rather than following the arrangements made for him by his father. There is a conflict followed by estrangement. View the ‘Bole Churiyan’ sequence from the film.

As part of this segment of the film, one son fantasizes about a reconciliation with his estranged parents.

Discuss the message the director could communicating be regarding cultural ‘tradition’ and how this is achieved in the segment.

8. Your own sequences

After a whole body warm-up students continue to develop sequences from previous activity
Focus tasks could include
  • Interpreting a section viewed
  • Each pair teaching other groups their short sequences and combining these to form a longer sequence
  • Manipulation and development of key motifs and phrases through use of
    • Different body parts
    • Repetition
    • Changes to timing

9. Choreographers

Using The Choreographers’, explore the ways in which these famous Indian choreographers have been both influenced by tradition and created new traditions. As an extension to this, divide students into small groups and have them explore You Tube clips of each choreographer’s work (URLS can be found in Appendices x and y).

10. Reflection

Reflecting on the issues discussed and on practical tasks undertaken, students document thoughts in their journal or in pairs complete the sentence starter activity.