Learn More about the Gift of Odissi Dance to the World

Odissi ­ Dance that Captivates

Odissi is among the eight classical dance forms of India. It originated 2000 years back in the land of Odisha and is mentioned as Odra­Magadhi in the Bharat Natya Shastra. Odissi made religion and philosophy their base and started in the temples as a Devadasi tradition and was performed by the 'Maharis' who devoted their lives to God.

It has different Bhangas, involving foot stamping and striking postures as seen on Indian sculptures. The distinct features that make Odissi distinct from other Indian classical dances are Tribhangi, which refers to the independent movements of the three parts ­ head, chest and pelvis, and the other is square stance called Chauka symbolizing Lord Jagannath. It is based on tandava ­ portraying vigorous masculine energy and lasya ­ portraying feminine grace.

In the present scenario, Odissi is one of the most influential and codified forms of classical dance. Over the time, three different schools were developed relating to this dance – Mahari (its roots are linked with the Devadasi tradition), Nartaki (formed for the royal courts) and Gotipua (males in the attires of female and playing their role).

Another important part of Odissi is its music, it is quite distinct from Carnatic and Hindustani music and has got it’s inspiration from the Tantric, i.e., chanting in Buddhist style and is called odra sangeet. It includes Chandas and raga system. Their orchestra includes vocalist, sitars, pakhawaj, manjiras, and violin or flute players.

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