Odissi is one of the eight classical dance forms of India which originated from the state of Orissa in Eastern India and is believed to be the oldest on the basis of archaeological evidence found in the caves of the temples of Orissa. It is distinguished from the other classical dance forms by the importance it places upon “Tribhangi” (three-point break) and the “Chauka” (basic square stance).
Odissi’s tradition was divided into two schools: “Maharis” and the “Gotipuas”. The Maharis were the “devdasis” (temple girls) who performed Nritya (pure dance) and Abhinaya (interpretation of poetry) based on the mantras and slokas. The Gotipuas were young boys dressed as girls and danced to compositions based on Radha and Krishna, as a Hindu worship ritual in the temples of Orissa.
The traditional Odissi repertoire consists of:
- “Mangalacharan” (Seeking the blessing of Lord Ganesha)
- “Battu” (A dance piece offered to Lord Shiva)
- “Pallavi” (A pure dance item based on Ragas)
- “Abhinaya” (Dance based on expressions)
- “Nritya Natya” (Dance Drama)
- “Moksha “ (Spiritual liberation)