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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Indian Classical Dance Form- Odissi

Odissi Dance

The caves of Udayagiri-Khandagiri furnish some of the earliest examples of Odissi dance.

The dance derives from the 'Odra nritya' mentioned in Natya Shastra. It was primarily practiced by the 'Maharshi' and patronized by the Jain King Kheravela.

With the emergence of Vaishnavism in the region, the Mahari system became defunct. Instead, young boys were enlisted and dressed as females to continue the art form. They came to be known as 'Gotipuas'. Another form of this art, 'Nartala' continued to be practiced at the royal courts.

In the mid-20th century, Odissi acquired International applaud due to the efforts of Charles Fabri and Indrani Rahman


Some of the features of Odissi dance are:


  • The tribhanga postures, i.e. the three-bended form of the body are innate to the Odissi dance form. Also, the 'Chowk' posture with hands spread out Illustrates masculinity.

  • During the dance, the lower body remains largely static and there is the movement of the torso (upper arm). Hand gestures play a vital role to convey expressions during the Nritya part.

  • Odissi dance form is eccentric in its representation of gracefulness, sensuality, and beauty. The dancers create serpentine geometrical shapes and patterns with the body. Hence is known as 'mobile sculpture'.

  • Odissi dance is escorted by Hindustani classical music and instruments generally used are Manjira (Cymbals), Pakhawaj (Drums), Sitar, Flute, etc.


  • The libretto (lyrics) of Gita Govinda, written by Jayadeva, is used along with compositions of some local poets.

  • The woman dancer wears an elaborate hair-style, silver jewelry, a long necklace, etc.


The elements of the Odissi dance form include:

  • Mangalacharan or the emergence where a flower is offered to mother earth.

  • Batu nritya comprising of the dance. It has the Tribhanga and the Chowk postures.

  • Pallavi which includes the facial pronouncement and the representation of the song.

  • Tharijham consisting of pure dance before the conclusion.

  • The concluding item is of two types: (1.) Moksha - it includes joyous movements signifying liberation. (2.) Trikhanda Majura - it is another way of concluding, in which the performer takes leave from the Gods, the audience, and the stage.


Famous proponents: Gur Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra, Sonal Mansingh, Sharon Lowen (USA), Anadani Dasi (Argentina).
Fig: Tribhanga stance (Odissi)



Fig: Odissi Dance







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