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WheelOdissi is arguably the oldest of all Indian classical dance forms and originates from the eastern state of Orissa. Dating back to the 2nd century BC, Odissi is well known for its lyrical nature, grace, fluid movements and asymmetrical body postures. Some Odissi postures can be seen today in the sculptures of ancient Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist temples and caves of Orissa.

Traditionally, Odissi was performed by the Maharis or Devadasis (female temple dancers) in the temples of Orissa, notably the temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri and the Sun Temple in Konark. Subsequently, the dance was performed by Gotipuas or young boys dressed as female dancers in the public arena. Much of present day Odissi was revived in the 1950’s by performers and teachers such as Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Padma Bibhushan Kelu Charan Mohapatra and Guru Deba Prasad Das.

Odissi is differentiated from other classical schools of dance by its elaborate grace and charm combined with intricate footwork. The characteristic features of Odissi are:

  • Tribhanga – three bends in the body at the knee, torso and neck,
  • Chauka – a square-like posture derived from the statue of Lord Jagannath and
  • Rounded, lyrical torso and body movements.