Odissi dance, one of the oldest forms of classical dance in India, traces its origins to Natya Shastra- the sacred Sanskrit text on performing arts. It evolved further on receiving royal patronage. The carvings found at the Udayagiri Monastery denote that Odissi was patronised as early as 2nd Century BCE and the trend continued unabated till about the 16th Century AD.
After surviving the tumultuous years from 16th Century AD till Independence, Odissi underwent a renaissance of sorts which helped it become the global phenomenon it is today.
The classical music and dance form of Odisha was prefixed with “Odissi” by noted Odia poet Kabichandra Kalicharan Pattanayak, who was the centre of the cultural revival of Odisha post-independence, to retain its distinct identity.
Odissi dance form can be broken down to the movement of the head, bust and torso and the accompanying gestures and expressions. The soulful expressions accompanied by graceful gestures and deft movements punctuated with intermittent moments of stillness appropriates watching Odissi Dance to “Poetry in Motion”.
The range of emotions portrayed is huge and touches every emotional chord - right from melancholy to ecstasy, sensual to rage, pride to devotion, and philosophical to the religious.