23 Facts About Odissi


Odissi, referred to as Orissi in old literature, is a major ancient Indian classical dance that originated in the temples of Odisha – an eastern coastal state of India.

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Odissi performances have expressed ideas of other traditions such as those related to Hindu Gods Shiva and Surya, as well as Hindu Goddesses.

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Odissi is traditionally a dance-drama genre of performance art, where the artis and musicians play out a story, a spiritual message or devotional poem from the Hindu texts, using symbolic costumes, body movement, abhinaya (expressions) and mudras (gestures and sign language) set out in ancient Sanskrit literature.

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Odissi is learnt and performed as a composite of basic dance motif called the Bhangas.

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Traditional Odissi exists in two major styles, the first perfected by women and focussed on solemn, spiritual temple dance; the second perfected by boys dressed as girls (gotipuas) which diversified to include athletic and acrobatic moves, and were performed from festive occasions in temples to general folksy entertainment.

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Odissi was the only Indian dance form present in Michael Jackson's 1991 hit single Black or White.

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Foundations of Odissi are found in Natya Shastra, the ancient Hindu Sanskrit text of performance arts.

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This, states Vatsyayan, suggests that Odissi was admired or at least well known in distant parts of India, far from Odisha in the medieval era, to be included in the margins of an important Jain text.

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Odissi was performed in the temples by the dancers called Maharis, who played out these spiritual poems and underlying religious plays, after training and perfecting their art of dance starting from an early age, and who were revered as auspicious to religious services.

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The Odissi performing Maharis combined pure dance with expression, to play out and communicate the underlying text through abhinaya.

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These three performance aspects of Odissi are described and illustrated in the foundational Hindu texts, particularly the Natya Shastra, Abhinaya Darpana and the 16th-century Abhinaya Chandrika by Maheshwara Mahapatra of Odisha.

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The talas used in Odissi dance are Ekatali, Khemata, Rupaka, Tripata, Jhampa, Jati Tala, Adatali, Matha, Aditala, Sarimana, Kuduka and others.

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Abhinaya in Odissi is performed to verses recited in Sanskrit or Odia language.

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Distinctive part of the Odissi tradition is the inclusion of Moksha finale in the performance sequence.

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The foot movement or pada bhedas too have basic dance units, and Odissi has six of these, in contrast to four found in most classical Indian dances.

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The saree worn by Odissi dancers are brightly coloured, and usually of local silk.

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Odissi dance is accompanied by the traditional classical music of the state of Odisha, Odissi music.

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The primary Odissi ragas are Kalyana, Nata, Shree Gowda, Baradi, Panchama, Dhanashri, Karnata, Bhairavee and Shokabaradi.

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Odissi dance, states Ragini Devi, is a form of "visualized music", wherein the Ragas and Raginis, respectively the primary and secondary musical modes, are integrated by the musicians and interpreted through the dancer.

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Each note is a means, has a purpose and with a mood in classical Indian music, which Odissi accompanies to express sentiments in a song through Parija.

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Odissi tradition existed in three schools: Mahari, Nartaki, and Gotipua:.

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Odissi introduced Mudra Vinyoga in 1955 and Sancharibhava in the Odissi dance items, and portrayed Shringara Rasa in Gita Govinda Ashthapadis.

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Odissi has been included in Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar's BTech syllabus since 2015 as the first Indian national technical institute to introduce any classical dance in syllabus.

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