The Classical Dance form Odissi originates from the state of Orissa, in the Northeastern part of India. It is an elegant and sculpturesque art form, which is several thousand years old. The first documentary evidence of this dance is found in the manuscript about dance and drama Natya Shastra, which is more than 2000 years old. The purpose of this book was to cultivate a profound devotion with a clear spiritual intention.
This dance form was redefined in the 20th century, after going through a process of “classicalization”, acomplished by the most prestigiuos scholars and dancing masters, among them the precursor of our lieange, Guru Kelurachan Mohapatra. These scholars brought back to life and reconstructed Odissi by using the images and sculptures from the temples of Jagannath Puri. Also by recalling the positions and figures of the Gods themselves, like Lord Krishna and Lord Jagannath.
The Odissi dance was suppressed during the British Rule, as well as all the art forms performed in temples.
Odissi is an art form which encompasses dance, music, poetry and expression. It is defined by graceful and gentle movements in opposition to the strong rhythm of the feet. It is a harmonic combination of subtle and rhythmical movements.
The feet positions, jumps, spins, the mudras and facial expression portaying the stories from the Vedic books, are some of the elements that constitute its wide and rich vocabulary.
Nowadays Odissi rises as one of the Indian devotional dances with the most refined aesthetic vocabulary.