Odissi History

Odissi is an Indian classical dance form from the Eastern state of Orissa. It is one of India’s oldest dance forms and it faced grave extinction during the British Raj. The odissi of today is sourced from Devadasi or Mahari tradition. It is a tradition that signified beautiful young women being consecrated to the Gods. They sang and performed in the temple signifying deep religious worship. Then there is also the Gotipua Naacha a tradition that involves young boys dressing up as women and performing to the devotional poems of the Vaishnava poets. Then there is also the Nartaki tradition which followed the tradition of performances done in the royal courts of kingdoms.
Ancient temple statues and carvings as well as dance treatises date the dance back to about 200 B.C.
In fact the temple of Konarak (1300 A.D.) celebrates Odissi dance through its elaborate architecture, statues and dance reliefs depicting devotion to the sun God, Surya.


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