Odissi, is the traditional dance form of Orissa and owes its origin
to the temple dances of the devadasis (temple dancers). Odissi
is marked by its sensuousness and lyricism, with movements that
reflect the divine sculptural motifs of the temples of Orissa.The
history of Odissi dates back to somewhere between the 8th and
the 11th century, when the kings took great pride in excelling
in the arts of dance and music. It is during these centuries that
inscriptions referring to "Devdasis", the women who
were conseciated to the worship of the deity, were carved at the
Brahmeshwar temple. "Devdasis" apparently played an
important part in the temple ritual. Odissi is the oldest surviving
dance form in India and perhaps the world. Odissi has been mentioned
in inscriptions, depicted on scultures, in temples like the Brahmeswara
and the dancing hall of the Sun Temple at Konark. In 1950s, the
entire dance form was revitalised thanks to the Abhinaya Chandrika
and sculpted dance poses found in temples.
the form is curvaceous, concentrating on the tribhang or the division
of the body into three parts, head, bust and torso; the mudras
and the expressions are similar to those of Bharatnatyam. Odissi
performances are replete with lores of the eighth incarnation
of Vishnu, Lord Krishna. It is a soft, lyrical classical dance
which depicts the ambience of Orissa and the philosophy of its
most popular deity, Lord Jagannath. Odissi is based on the popular
devotion to Lord Krishna, and the verses of the Sanskrit play
Geet Govinda are used to depict the love and devotion to God.
The Odissi dancers use their head, bust and torso in soft flowing
movements to express specific moods and emotions.
is a dance of love and passion, in an everlasting synthesis of
divinity and humanity. Its sculpturesque quality is breathtaking,
while its intricate, quick rhythmic patterns of footwork, along
with the pulsating energy, the force and lightning -like speed
of feet and body movements are a sheer pleasure to experience.
most important elements in the Odissi Nrita are the Bhangis (stylised
poses) and Karanas (Yoga based body positions). A striking feature
of the Odissi dance is that it has found extensive representation
in the ornamental temple structure of Orissa. It is the most expressive
and lyrical of all classical dance.
the pure and decorative items of Odissi where there is no meaning
to convey, importance is given to the basic stance 'Chauka' in
which the feet are positioned to form a square position. In some
items sharp and measured movement predominate whereas in others
movements are swift and lyrical. All these combine to build up
the consummate artistry, the elaborate grace and charm which remain
the fundamental charcteristic of Odissi.