A fantastic pose by an Odissi performer - Image by Dance Photographer - Brendan Lally

A fantastic pose by an Odissi performer - Image by Dance Photographer - Brendan Lally


Odissi is practiced in the Eastern parts of India for thousands of years and according to the archaeological experts, it is the oldest surviving dancing tradition of India. Odissi originates from the Indian state Odisha or Orissa which is the ninth largest state of India. Odissi is one of the eight recognized classical Indian dances and it was performed in the Hindu temples as a ritual worship. The historic Odissi dance tradition existed in three schools: Mahari, Nartaki, and Gotipua.

Odissi dancers - Image by thaths
Odissi dancers – Image by thaths

Odissi has the main distinction with the other dances as it involves the stamping of the foot and striking various postures. The evidence of such practice is noticed through the ancient Indian sculptures. Odissi dance style is achieved through expressions mainly through posture and stances,leaps (bhaunri), dancing steps, feet position, hand gestures and mood. In addition, there are approximately 48 single-hand and 26 double-hand gestures. Odissi dance is accompanied with special Odissi music.

A fantastic pose by an Odissi performer - Image by  Dance Photographer - Brendan Lally
A fantastic pose by an Odissi performer – Image by Dance Photographer – Brendan Lally

The ornaments and costumes of the Odissi performers are so unique and are the most exotic features of this historic ritual dance.  The jewellery used by the Odissi dancers is created by highly skilled artisans and this traditions is also more than 500 years old which is done by them on the eastern shores of Odisha. The makeup of an Odissi dancer includes a Red dot, applied on the forehead with a pattern made from sandalwood around it, Black eyeliner, applied around the eyes with a broad outline to give them an elongated look, among others.


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