About Odissi Dance

The Odissi dance of Odisha (Orissa) is one of the seven acknowledged classical dance forms of India. Like all other Indian classical dances, it also has its origin in the temples of Odisha. The element that distinguishes Odissi form other dance forms is the grace. In Odissi, the torso movement is considered very important which is soft, lyrical and graceful. The techniques of movement are built around the two basic postures of the Chowk and the Tribhanga. The chouk is a position imitating a square - a masculine stance with the weight of the body equally balanced. The tribhanga is a very feminine stance where the body is deflected at the neck, torso and the knees. The formal repertoire of Odissi has the following order of presentation - Mangalacharan, Sthai or Batu, Pallavi, Abhinaya and Moksha.


Mangalacharan marks the entrance of the dancer onto stage. The dancer invokes the blessing of God for an auspicious beginning to the performance. Then the dancer offers salutation to the Mother Earth (Bhumi Pranam), the teacher, the accompanists and the audience. It is followed by a prayer to the Almighty.


Batu Nritya is a pure dance offering in honour of Lord Batuka Bhairava or Lord Shiva. It highlights the duality of the masculine and the feminine through the basic stance of the chauk and tribhanga. This dance item is redolent with sculpturesque poses describing such actions as the playing of the mardala, veena, flute and cymbals. Intricate rhythmic patterns are also worked out elaborately in different passages of a continuing refrain, and no song or recitation is allowed in the accompaniment.


The word 'Pallavi' has been derived from the Sanskrit word 'pallava', which literally means 'blossoming'. It is a pure dance which implies elaboration; an exposition not only of the dance but also of the music that accompanies it. Pallavi starts with slow, graceful & lyrical movements of the eyes, neck, torso and feet which slowly builds into a crescendo to climax in a fast tempo at the end. The graceful and lyrical movement of the dancer's form is supported by intricate rhythm patterns of exceptional beauty. Like the blossoming of a flower, the Pallavi gradually unfolds the particular Raga upon which it is based; thus a beautiful tapestry of rhythm, music and movement is created.


Abhinaya is depiction of a bhava or deep emotion expressed in a song or lyric. In Odissi style poetry of Jayadeva from the Geeta Govinda of the 12th century AD is being performed. The Abhinaya item is sometimes danced to the accompaniment of Oriya lyrics composed by the three venerated poets of Odisha – Kavi Surya Baladeva Rath, Gopal Krishna Pattnaik, Banamali Das - among others. Set to a slow tempo, the abhinaya provides ample scope to the dancer for delineating an emotion through the expressive artifices of mime-glances, hand gestures, sinuous movements of the body and the myriad uses of facial expression.


Moksha means salvation, the spiritual liberation and the blissful integration of the soul with theSupreme. Paralleling this concept, Moksha, signifies the total surrender of the dancer to the God. It is a pure dance sequence in fast tempo, performed to an accompaniment of a recitation of rhythmic syllables which are played out on the Mardala. This dance represents a spiritual culmination for the dancer who soars into the realm of pure aesthetic delight. It is a treat for both the eye and the ear. In this dance item, movement and posture merge to create new patterns, new designs in space and time. It follows an invocation to the Goddess Shakti, praying for the universal well-being of mankind and for a harmonious co-existence.

Seraikella Chhau

Chhau is a rare and unique colorful masked dance-drama form.

Sushant Maharana

Odissi & Chhau Dancer, Choreographer & Founder of Nrityamanjari Group

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