Origin of Kathak:
Originating from Northern India, Kathak has gained immense popularity for its sparklingfootwork, fast whirling movements and subtle abhinaya or mimetic dance. It almost never fails to capture the audience and this ability is probably because of its long history in the courts of emperors and kings.
The word "Kathak" is derived from the name given to its practitioners "Kathakars".
Katha meaning story and it's practitioners being those who told these stories. They told stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and other Puranas.
There is a popular saying that ‘Katha kahe so kathak’, (one who tells a story is a kathak). Etymologically the word kathaka is related to katha, the art of story telling. From literary evidence it appears that in ancient times a class of professional story-tellers recited the epics and the mythological stories with an added eliment of abhinaya-acting. While reciting they sang, danced and acted. The art was handed down from one generation to the next generation in a hereditary manner as an oral tradition.
This was prior to the advent of the Mughal dynasty in North India. With Mughal rule these performing bards were banned from performing in temples and were made to serve in courts for entertainment. The Kathakars had to change with history and it is in the Mughal courts that they developed a style for pure entertainment of the emperors.
After the power of the Mughal empire declined, these performers were patronized by kings such as those in Rajasthan and other minor princely states such as the Nawab of Oudh, etc. The style developed two major lineages - the Jaipur gharana and the Lucknow gharana.