Odissi is an Indian classical dance form originating from the Hindu temples of Orissa in India. One of the oldest dance forms according to archaeological evidence found in bas- relief, temples, and the Natya Shastra.. Odissi is a combination of tandava (masculine) and lasya (graceful) positions enhanced with fluid upper torso movements and graceful gestures balanced with strong footwork.
Odissi technique is comprised of two main postures, Chowka and Tribhangi. The chowka is a masculine position resembling a square stance very similar to the Hindu God Lord Jaganath. The tribhangi is a feminine position. Tribhanghi means three (tri) folds of the body (bhangi). A dancer performs with three distinct curve/folds on their body at neck, chest, and pelvis. Both postures utilize the torso movement, which is a controlled side to side fluid movement, like the waves washing along the beaches of Puri.
Mangalcharan- An invocation piece with a flower offering to a specific deity.
Batu- A nritta technique piece where the basic stances of chowka and tribhangi are interchanged and enhanced by sculptureque poses. This is a pure dance offering in honor of Lord Batuka Bhairava, one of the forms of Lord Shiva.
Pallavi- a Pure dance item focused on a particular Raga and enhanced with complex rhythm structures. The item gradually increases in speed and the dancer performs with continued grace and technical accuracy.
Abhinaya- The acting portion which expresses stories, emotions, and bhava.
Moksha: The concluding dance item which depicts the ultimate release of the soul.
The study of Odissi dance is based on the Guru Shishya Parampara and is deeply rooted in Hinduism. The Guru not only spends time teaching dance, music, abhinaya but becomes a mentor and guide as you grow in dance and age. Learning requires a continued connection with dance Guru's, mentors, scholars, and musicians. Odissi requires dedication, devotion and determination. It is simply not a mere form of entertainment but an art where literature, spirituality, culture, and tradition are woven into intricate dance steps and acting.