Odisha is the state of temples and it’s legacy of dance and music tradition is clearly reflected through the postures, the expressions, the costumes, the instruments carried and the situations depicted, all in the sculptures of the temples like a mirror of ancient past. Odisha has a rich artistic heritage and has produced some of the finest examples of Indian art and architecture. In tribal areas Odisha has a wide variety of dances. Music of the MADAL(a type of local drum) and flute is characteristic of the countryside.
Besides all, the classical dance of Odisha , known as ODISSI, has survived for more than 700 years. Originally it was a temple dance performed for the Gods. With their delicate movements and charming expression odissi dancers justify each and every rhythm of the song and make the dance more graceful. It is considered as the oldest surviving dance form of India on the basis of archaeological evidences. The origin of this dance can be traced back to the 2nd century B.C. carvings of the Rani Gumpa caves in Udaygiri, Odisha. The Natya Shastra refers to this dance as ODAR MAGADHA.
The techniques of movement are built around by two basic postures of the CHOWKAND the TRIBHANGA. The CHOWK is a position imitating a square – a very 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 beginning of an odissi dance recital is with the BHUMIPRANAM, an obeisance to the chosen deity. It is also known as MANGALACHARAN. It is in praise of either Lord Ganesh, Lord Jagannath or Adi shakti. A line of poetry is set to music and it is performed with a combination of pure dance steps, expressing the meaning through the gestures.
It is considered as the most difficult item as it introduces the full gamut of nritta technique. Beginning with a CHAUKA position in a slow tempt gradually moves to intricate movements.
It has a stitched costume made out of the special Odisha handloom sarees. The sarees have their special borders and intricate designs. Earlier there were no stitched costumes but only sarees were used to be draped around. But over a period of time, the stitched costume has been used more frequently because of its convenience. The odissi jwellery is in silver. The dancers wears a choker, a longer necklace, armlets, bracelets, a belt, anklets, earrings. The dancers also wear an intricate head piece , delicately made out of solo, representing flowers around the hair, and a piece of protruding upward, representing the top of a temple
IMPORTANT FIGURES AND THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS.
After studying BHARATANATYAM at kalakshetra, Sanjukta Panigrahi returned to Odisha to work with her guru, Kelucharan Mohapatra. As a performer, and in partnership with her musician husband Raghunath Panigrahi , she became a trailblazer in the field odissi, winning National and International acclaim. Kumkum Mohanty , also among the first generation of odissi performers , became the Chief Executive of Odissi Research Centre in 1980. Pankaj Charan Das is now acknowledged as the Adi-Guru of Odissi was known for his greatest choreography such as PANCHKANYA, GATIVILAS PALLAVI, BHASMASURA.
Deba Prasad Das was the first Odissi guru to tour internationally. His style is direct and conveys a clarity of movement and feeling. Of all the gurus, Kelucharan Mohapatra is perhaps the most prolific and widely known. He is remembered for his virtuosic skills as a choreographer, musician and as a performer excelling in abhinaya.
Being a odissi dancer, I want to add some of my opinions which i have experienced in the past years. I joined my odissi dance classes when I was just 9 years old. I had no clue about the dance form, my mother always wanted that i should learn odissi. Gradually, I love the dance forms, mesmerized by the sublime medley of movements, gestures and expressions that odissi offered. The dance form also gave me a reality check, while learning PALLAVI, it took me almost 2 years to master the sync between my footwork and my facial expressions. Later on, i can connect with the audiences emotionally with my performance. I represented my dance in state level and many dance festivals. Even after so many years and tangible success, the nasty comments and taunts have not ended. Every time I was taunted by a statement, “ODISSI IS SO BORING” , by this statement you are not insulting me, you are insulting your culture, your state. Although the dance form is still remains rooted in tradition, a change in narrative content which aimed at making it more relevant to the masses. Evoking people’s emotions through my dance is the highest honor for me. However the only difference is I consciously focuses on praises and constructive criticisms.