A Kathakar in the Library

Reading pictures and seeing stories . . .

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Photo: Karol Wyszynski

In 2018 Balbir Singh Dance Company in partnership with Bradford Libraries explored how classical Indian Kathak, with its rich visual language, narrative stucture and expressional storytelling aspect, translates into a library setting.

During the summer, the company performed in Bradford City Library, bringing a dancer, musicians and a Kathakar (storyteller) into the space for a series of impromptu performances engaging children and their families with tales of Indian gods, beauty, love and nature.

The performance was an opportunity to experience different cultural traditions and diverse forms of storytelling. Through dance, music and the spoken word, ancient Indian gods and mythical creatures were conjured into the library space, in a visually rich and engaging experience that captivated the audience.

Children and their parents were encouraged to view the library in a new light as performers interacted with the library’s collection, bringing to life the magical stories hidden within its shelves, and encouraging further exploration of its resources.

A Kathakar in the Library is a truly memorable experience for library visitors. Bringing stories to life using the visual and aural techniques of Kathak is at once emotionally engaging and highly entertaining. It is an experience that could enhance the engagement work of any library, by putting diverse storytelling traditions and cultures at the heart of its offer.

A Kathakar in the Library
Illustration: David Andrassy

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