Odissi Dance

Quick Facts

1. State: Odisha

2. Precursor: Odra Magadhi

3. Costume: Oriya patta or pure silk.

4. Mudra: Asamyukta and Samyukta hasta mudra

Odissi is one of the classical dances of India which hails from the eastern state of Odisha. Odissi dance style follows the basic principles of the treatises like Natyashastra and the tradition and the methodologies of movement described in the Shilpa Shastras of Odisha such as Shilpa Sarani and Shilpa Prakasha.

The dancer is adorned with silver jewelery made of fine silver in the Tarakashi or filigree style of hand-made jewelry. The costume is made from traditional oriya patta or hand loomed silk.

Traditionally, the repertoire of Odissi dance recital consist of:-

1. Mangalacharan and Bhumipranama (an obeisance to the chosen deity) -  The Odissi recital opens with this invocatory piece. A combination of dance steps and mime for expressing the meaning through the gestures is used to interpret a line of poetry set to music.

2. Pallavi- A melody is introduced for the dancer who begins to move in accordance with sound patterns and notes of the song using eye movements, postures and nuanced footwork.

3. Abhinaya- The dancer now enacts the song through hand gestures, facial expressions and body movements to convey the meaning and mood of the lyrics.

4. Moksha – This is the concluding piece of the recital consisting of pure dance as well as abhinaya elements. The dancer creates varied patterns in space and time through a  combination of movement and static poses.

In the Odissi dance the human body is treated in terms of bhangas or postures. These are Samabhanga, Dvibhanga and Tribhanga along which deflections of the head, torso and hips can take place. The eyes and face play a very important role in expressing the moods of the song so there are specific exercises like Dristi Bheda (eye movement), Sira Bheda (head movement) and Griva Bheda (neck movement) so that the dancer’s body movement and hand expressions become more dramatic.

The dance style is achieved through expression in six major areas.

  1. Bhangi (Poses)
  2. Bharamari (Measured leaps)
  3. Chari (Dance steps)
  4. Pada Bheda (Précised feet position)
  5. Hastas (Hand gestures)
  6. Nava Rasa (Nine emotions or moods)

The Odissi orchestra consists of pakhawaj player, a singer, flutist, a sitar or violin player and a manjira or small cymbal player.

Odissi dance thus gives the impression of a soft lyrical style, highly sensuous in form, but actually it is rigorous, challenging and demands control and precision.

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