Orissa News

Odissi Dance

Odissi Dance

Odissi, the classical dance form of Orissa distinguishes itself as one of the eight Indian classical dance forms. Though it was revived and developed only in the recent years, only after the independence of the country, it existed in the ancient times. References about it have been made in the Natya Shastra as the Odra Magadhi Nrutya. Odissi dance deals largely with the love theme of Radha and Krishna and distinguishes itself from other dance forms in its unique rhythm, the bhangis and mudras. Odissi classical dance places much importance on tribhangi(the three part break) i.e. the independent movement of head, chest and pelvis and the basic square stance called Chauka.

Development of Odissi Dance

Odissi Dance:Classical dance forms from India

Earlier the dance existed in three schools of dance in Orissa; the Mahari, the Nartaki and the Gotipua. Maharis { the name is derived from combination of two words Maha (great) and (nari)} were the Oriya Devdasis performing nrityas at the temple of Lord Jagannath. These Maharis used to perform on Mantras and shlokas and performed nritta (pure dance) and abhinaya (interpretation of poetry).Later sequences based on the poetry of Jayadev’s magnum opus Geeta Gobinda were performed. Bhitari gauni Maharis, were allowed in the inner temple while Bahari gauni Maharis, though in the temples, were excluded from the sanctum sanctorum.

With the advent of vaishnavism, Gotipua, an offshoot of the Mahari emerged in the later parts of the 6th century.Since the viashnavites did not approve the dancing of women, young boys dressed as girls were taught Maharis. This led to the growth of Gotipua. Vaishnava poets composed innumerable lyrics in Oriya dedicated to Radha and Krishna. Since the performers here were little boys, the dance for the first time broke the precincts of temple.

The last dance form viz the Nartaki was practiced in the court of royal kings. During the British rule, the Mahari dance form was misused under the guise of the Nartaki form and devdasis were forced to perform in the royal courts. This led to both forms of dance becoming unfashionable. Only the Gotipua form of dance remained and weathered the waves of time.

Post independence, the style of the Gotipua dance was resurrected and reconstructed based on archaeological and anthropological findings by exponents like Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Pankaj Charan Das and Deba Prasad Das and was rechristened as Odissi.

The Odissi Dance

Odissi Dance:Graciious Movements

The different items of the Odissi dance style are Managlacharna, Batunrya or Sthayi Nata, Pallavi, Abhinaya and Moksha. In mangalacharana the dancer dedicates herself to the Lord and begs forgiveness of the Mother Earth for stamping her feet upon her; she apologizes to her audience for any shortcomings and offers salutations to the Guru. Batu Nrytya is pure dance. It begins with a series of sculpturesque poses symbolizing the playing of the veena, drum, flute or cymbals. Pallivi is extremely graceful and lyrical. The tune is in some raga and is sung to the accompaniment of Sargam and Bols. Through facial expressions abhinaya depicts rasa and bhava to bring out the meaning and mood of songs. Generally the songs written by poets, Banamali, Upendra Bhanja, Baladeva Rath, Gopala and Jayadeva are sung. Moksha Nrutya is the last item, performed to the accompaniment of rhythmic syllables. It has a fast tempo. The soul of the dancer is supposed to merge with the Divine as the dancer becomes ecstatic. Odissi classical dance is an effort to come near God and experience true bliss.

Renowned artists of Odissi Dance include Priyambada Hejmadi, Padmashree Sanjukta Panigrahi, Minati Mishra, Kumkum Mohanty, Oopalie Oparajita, Sangeeta Das, etc.