States Odisha Dances

Dances & Music of Odisha

The eastern Indian state of Odisha has a rich heritage of dance and music that is a delight for all arts and culture lover. Odissi music is a classical style of music that comprises all the essential elements, such as talas and ragas, common to Karnatic and Hindustani Music. Initially Odissi music has the tradition of chhandas that were low in musical outline. Jayadeva was the first Odia poet to compose musical lyrics that were meant to be sung and he also suggested the classical ragas existing during that time in which the lyrics were to be sung. From the 16th Century, musical treatises, named Natya Manorama, Sangita Kalalata, Gita Prakasha and Sangitamava Chandrika, were written and compiled in the state. In the 19th Century, two treatises – Sangita Narayana and Sangita Sarani – were written.  Odissi sangita is a combination of four classes of music chitrakala, chitrapada, dhruvapada and panchal. The main ragas in Odissi sangita are Bhairavee, Baradi, Dhanashri, Kalyana, Karnata, Nata, Panchama, Shree Gowda and Shokabaradi.

Your cultural tour to the state is incomplete without experiencing Odisha’s famous dance forms – Odissi, Chhau, Gotipua, Danda Nata, Sambapuri, Dalkhai, Chaitighoda, and Medha Nacha. Odissi is an Indian classical dance and archeological evidence indicates that it is the oldest surviving dance form in the country. As per literature from 200 BC, the history of Odissi dance dates back to 2,000 years. Chhau is a semi classical Indian dance with tribal, martial and folk origins. Gotipua dance is a folk dance that originated from Raghurajpur village in Puri District.

The Danda Nata is the most ancient folk dance in which devotees do penance by piercing their skin or tongues with iron nails, standing on sharp-edged swords, and walking on red hot charcoal. The Sambalpuri folk dance originated from the vibrant Sambalpur district in which the performers sing Dalkhai to the beats of timkis, drums and nisans. Chaitighoda is a folk dance of fishermen in which a dancer inside a horse costume gallops like a horse and is accompanied by two other characters the Rautani and the Rauta. Medha Nacha is a folk dance in which a performer puts a paper machie mask and dances to the beats of music in a procession. There are some tribal dance such as Karma and Changu that are performed by Gonds, Binjahal, Kharia, Oraon, Kisan, Kol and Juang tribes.

If planning to experience the rich dance of musical heritage of Odisha, you must plan your holidays from December to March, the time during which all music and dance festivals are organized. Konark Festival, organized by Odisha Tourism from December 1-5, showcases Odissi as well as other Indian classical dance performances. Mukteshwar Dance Festival, usually organized from January 14-16, focuses only on Odissi dance and stages various Odissi performances. Rajarani Music Festival, organized from January 18-20, features Odissi and Hindustani music performances. Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav, organized from February 6-8, features a combination of martial arts with classical and folk dances. Konark Music and Dance Festival, organized from February 19-23, features classical dance and music performances.

Popular Dances of Odisha

  • Chhau Dance

    A traditional dance form in Odisha, which is used to enacts the episodes from the Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, is Chhau Dance. The indigenous dance forms are integrated with martial arts to form this dance form.

  • Chaiti Ghoda

    Chaiti Ghoda dance, also known as the Horse Dance is mainly performed during the festivities related to the fishing communities of Odisha. This interesting-to-watch dance form is only performed by Kaibarta Caste.

  • Danda Nata

    One of the most popular folk dances of Odisha performed in the Ganjam district is Danda Nata. In this form of dance, devotees undergo a penance to appease Lord Shiva by physically touring their body.

  • Medha Nacha

    Medha Nacha is another type of mask dance performed mainly in the coastal districts of Odisha. Oversized masks of kings, queens, and devils made by paper pulp are used by dancers to perform this beautiful dance form in India.

  • Changu Dance

    Performed by almost all the regional tribes of Odisha, Changu Dance is a rural variety of the tambourine. This dance is mainly performed by women however men only sing songs and groove with female dancers with simple steps.

  • Karma Dance

    Performed during the festival of Karma Puja by the people of Gond and Oraon tribes, the tribal dance of Karma is presented in front of Karam Tree that represents the God of Fate.

  • Odissi Dance

    Renowned as the most revered classical dance form in Odisha, Odissi Dance is a typical dance form where religious and mythical stories and poems emoted by the dancers through expressions, body movements, and gestures.

Odisha Travel Information at a Glance

Get authentic information on how to plan an incredible trip to Odisha. Tour My India brings to you all the important details on how to reach Odisha by different means of transport along with information on where to visit and what to do on your Odisha tour. Find information on best time to visit Odisha and a comprehensible travel guide to varied destinations in the state that are worth visiting.