Dances of Orissa

Orissa and its culture due to the traditions and the tribal culture have an ancient dance culture. Dances of Orissa are famous all over India which also includes the folk dances and the classical form of dances.

Odissi Dance
All Indian classical dance forms have been originated in temples ages ago as a form of worship to the Lord. Odissi from Orissa is no exception to this. Originated in the ancient temples of Jagannath Puri and Konark this beautiful art form was earlier performed by the devdasis or the servants of God only to show their utmost devotion and love towards the Lord.

Later with the patronage of the Kings and the rulers of the state, this dance performance developed and grew into the classical form of Indian Dancing. Based on the devotion and worship and the lyrics of the famous Sanskrit verse of Geet Govinda is enacted with its own foot positions, head movements, eye movements, body positions, hand gestures, rhythmic foot work, jumps, turns and spins. The dance is a soft flowing movement to express specific moods and emotions. This soft, lyrical classical dance which depicts the ambience of Orissa and the philosophy of its most popular deity, Lord Jagannath, has an ancient heritage. The walls of ancient temples like the Puri and the Konark have dancing nymphs carved on them whose postures can be clearly identified to the present Odissi dance steps.

Although the dance form received a great patronage under the earlier rulers of the state, the growth shrank with the advent of the British Raj. It was due to great efforts of Kelu Charan Mahapatra who revived the dance form and brought it back to the lime light. Today Odissi is taught in many schools of dance all around in India.

Chhau Dance
< Chhau dance is another form of Dance that flourished with the royal patronage of the Mayurbhanj. It is form of martial dance and is performed during most of the festivities in Orissa. Based on the theme of Ramayana and the Mahabharata, this dance form is usually performed only by male dancers. The origin of Chhau dance is shrouded in obscurity and no historical document in this context has yet been recovered. Etymologically, Chhau is derived from the Sanskrit word chhaya which means a mask but some scholars are of opinion that Chhau is an independent colloquial Odissi word, meaning to attack or hunt. It is a harmony of classical, traditional and folk dance styles.

Danda Nata
Danda Nata of Orissa also known as the Danda Jatra, is one of the most ancient form of histrionic arts of the state which is associated with ritualistic services. It spreads the message of social reformation and universal brotherhood through its performances.