Sangeet in the Indian tradition originally referred to the shared and composite aesthetic space for vocal and instrumental music and dance.  The exchange of ideas between the three disciplines resonates to this day in their use of common terminology.  Unfortunately, we seem to have lost much of this shared space, due to a variety of reasons, although vocal and instrumental music continue to enjoy close ties.

Professional hereditary women performers until the early part of the twentieth century were trained in singing and dancing, and their recitals would include a demonstration of both arts.  However, gradually several women performers eschewed dance, as it was regarded as a direct connection with a past that had seen the middle class stigmatise their predecessors for ostensibly being depraved and indulging in lascivious display of gesture and movement.

But even to this day, the thumri section in Kathak dance performances continues to exhibit a strong connection between singing and dancing.  When incorporated in a Kathak recital, the thumri is not restricted to a vocal rendition of the song-text, but also highlights the meaning and the subtext of the verse through abhinaya or facial expressions and gestures, also known variously as haav-bhaav and adaa.

At 16 minutes into this film on Kathak produced by Films Division in 1970, dance guru Shambhu Maharaj does abhinaya for a thumri composed by his father Bindadin Maharaj of the Lucknow Kathak gharana.

Here is a clip from the film Shatranj ke khiladi directed by the iconic film maker Satyajit Ray.  It features a thumri composed by Bindadin Maharaj, choreographed and sung offscreen by his grandson Birju Maharaj, the renowned Kathak exponent of our times.  Reminiscent of nineteenth-century performance practice, the sarangi and tabla players standing behind the dancer Shashwati Sen, a leading disciple of Birju Maharaj.