Odissi
Sculpted poses, arresting visuals
Odissi has been revived in the past fifty years and can be considered as the oldest classical Indian dance on the basis of archival evidence. The form belongs to the East Indian state of Orissa. Odissi has a close association with the temples and its striking feature is its intimate relationship with temple sculpture. Tribhanga, the three-body bend characterises this dance form. It has a vast range of sculptural body movements which gives one the illusion of the sculptures coming to life.

In nritta the numbers consist of batu nritya, pallavi and mokhya. In batu nritya the dancer strikes poses holding various instruments like veena, flute, cymbals and drums and the choreography of this number reveals the imagination of the choreographer-gurus. Pallavi means to elaborate, and a dancer performs pure dance to a chosen time cycle and a musical raga (melody). Various body postures similar to temple sculptures are woven in this number. In mokhya, before the dance concludes, a dancer employs various dance units creating arresting visuals. In nritya, the songs from the celebrated Gita Govinda of poet Jayadeva written in the 12th century A.D., are used by dancers for expressional numbers.

The exquisite Sanskrit poetry and the sculptural movements to the typical Odissi music almost cast a spell on the spectators. Songs of other Oriya poets are also danced with subtle expressions, replete with emotions. In its revival period Odissi has received enthusiastic support from the young exponents and often one finds Bharatanatyam dancers also mastering the Odissi technique and performing both the dance forms though while doing so, they maintain the clearcut differences in the execution of the movements. In recent years, group choreographic presentations and dance dramas are also attempted in order to bring out the full glory and sculptural wealth of Odissi which is truly a visually fascinating performance style.
Odissi