Dancing With the Gods: A Conversation with Two Masters of Kathak Dance

Dancing with the Gods from Elizabeth VanMetre on Vimeo.

Dancing With the Gods: A conversation with Kathak dancers Maulik Shah and Ishira Parikh. Video by ELizabeth VanMetre and Thea Piltzecker


Kathak is an ancient form of classical dance born in the temple and palace courtyards of Northern India.


It might be the beat that seems to stay with you long after the drums stop playing or the twirling movements that continue to trace patterns in the air long after the dancers pause, but there is something spiritual about Kathak dance even today.


We had a chance to interview two prominent kathak dancers from Ahmadabad, India in their studio. They reflect on the connection between dance and religion in India, while sharing their personal journey as partners in dance and life. Ishira Parikh and Maulik Shah have been teaching dance for over 20 years.


“Indian classical dance is supposed to connect you, to make a direct connection with God,” Parikh explains.

While the dance is supposed to bring you closer to the divine, Shah says that it doesn’t happen every time. When it does though, he takes a pause and remembers to pray.

“If I’m doing this,” Shah says reaching his hand out diagonal from his nose, “[God is] there.”

Both dancers say they have had experienced the presence of God while performing. But it only happens sometime Parikh says. “And you cherish those moments,” she adds.