Classical Dance in India : Odissi
Odissi classical Indian Dance
Odissi is one of the famous classical Indian dances from Orissa state. Odissi is a highly inspired, passionate, ecstatic and sensuous form of dance. Like most of the South Indian classical dances of India Odissi too had its origin in the Devadasi tradition. The state of Orissa has a great cultural history. The rulers of this region built magnificent temples, which became the center of art and culture. It was around these temples that Odissi, one of India's scintillating dance-forms was born, nurtured and nourished.
There are a number of characteristics of the Odissi dance. The style may be seen as a conglomeration of aesthetic and technical details.
One of the most characteristic features of Odissi dance is the Tribhangi. The concept of Tribhang divides the body into three parts, head, bust, and torso. Any posture which deals with these three elements is called tribhangi. This concept has created the very characteristic poses which are more contorted than found in other classical Indian dances.
Attire and Makeup
Like any dance form, Odissi has its own traditional costumes and jewellery. The saree is draped in a particular fashion creating a fan-shaped structure in the front. The most common saree used by dancers is the Sambalpuri sarees or Kotki sarees, both locally made. Only white metal jewellery is worn in Odissi, including earrings that covers the whole ear and resembles the shape of a peacock's feather.
The musical accompaniment of Odissi dance is essentially the same as the music of Orissa itself. There are various views on how the music of the Odissi relates to the music of greater North India. It is usually considered just another flavour of Hindustani Sangeet, however there are some who feel that Odissi should be considered a separate classical system.
Theme & Performance
Odissi is similar to Bharatnatyam in terms of the mudras and expressions used in the performance. The 'Tribhang' or the division of the body into three parts, including head, bust and torso, is one of the highlighting features of Odissi. The performances are replete with lores of the eighth incarnation of Vishnu and his avatar of Lord Krishna. It is a soft dance backed by soothing lyrics. Through the performance, the Odissi artist personifies the ambience of Orissa and the philosophy of its most popular deity - Lord Jagannath.
Some of the famous Odissi dancers who have given Odissi a new definition include Late Sanjukta Panigrahi, the leading disciple of Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra. Other dancers are Anita Babu, Arpita Venkatesh, Chitra Krishnamurti, Sharmila Biswas, Madhavi Mudgal, Sharmila Mukherjee, Madhumita Raut, Aloka Kanungo, Vani Madhav and Jyoti Rout.