Odissi is known as the oldest dance form of India on the basis of archaeological evidences. The reason is the bass reliefs of 1st century BC in the Udaygiri caves. The Natya Shastra speaks of the dance from this region and refers to it as Odra-Magadhi.

Characterized by various Bhangas (Stance), which involves stamping of the foot and striking various postures as seen in Indian sculptures. The common Bhangas are Bhanga, Abanga, Atibhanga and Tribhanga.

The techniques of movement are built around the two basic postures of the Chowk and 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.

There are three traditions of the Odissi Dance viz. Mahari, Gotipua and Nartaki Schools.



Maharis were Oriya devadasis or temple girls, their name deriving from Maha (great) and Nari or Mahri (chosen) particularly those at the temple of Jagganath at Puri. Early Maharis performed mainly Nritta (pure dance) and Abhinaya (interpretation of poetry) based on Mantras and Slokas. Later, Maharis especially performed dance sequences based on the lyrics of Jayadev’s Gita Govinda.


Gotipuas were boys dressed up as girls and taught the dance by the Maharis. Only this tradition out of these three remains extant today.


Nartaki dance took place in the royal courts. During the British time the misuse of devadasis came under strong attack, so that Odissi dance withered in the temples and became unfashionable at court..

Noted Odissi exponents are: Kelucharan Mohapatra, Sonal Mansingh

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *