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Odyssey Dance | Indian Classical Dance

Odyssey dance is a classic dance form of Orissa province. Odyssey dance is mentioned in Bharatmuni’s Natyashastra as a classical dance form, which comes from Orissa. It is considered to be one of the most ancient dance forms in India.

Odyssey dance

History of Odyssey dance

The dance tradition in Orissa is very old. Etc. C. E. It is mentioned in the inscription of the elephant cave at Udayagiri that during the reign of Jain king Kharvel in the second century, he performed the dance performances ‘Tandav’ and ‘Abhinaya’ for the people. The sculptures in the temples built during this period also show various dance forms.

Devadasi practice started in Orissa from the ninth century. He was called ‘Mahari’. This was the beginning of the Odyssey. There were two sets of Maharis dancing in the Jagannath Temple at Puri. One was Odyssey and the other was Telugu.

The ninth century kings known as ‘Nrityakesari’ and ‘Gandharvakesari’ as well as the twelfth century king Anang Bhimdev encouraged dance-music. This led to the development of this dance. In the twelfth century, Maheshwar Mohapatra, in his book Abhinayachandrika, gave a scientific explanation of Odyssey dance.

In the sixteenth century, young dancers were appointed to the temple in place of the Maharis, known as ‘Gotipua’. They danced in femininity. It was Mahari and Gotipua who continued the tradition of Odyssey dance for a long time. In time, however, the dance form began to decline. Recently, this dance has started to revive.

The dance was performed at the Inter-University Youth Festival in Delhi. Well known dancer Indrani Rehman performed this dance in 1958 in Delhi. He made this dance popular all over India and abroad by experimenting with it. Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi, Kalavikas Kendra etc. have also contributed to the revival of this dance.

The nature of the Odyssey dance

This dance form is composed of two different methods, Tandava and Lasya. The lasya dance form was developed by the original Maharis and the later Gotipuas brought rigidity to the dance. Chandava method is a fast, vigorous and jerky movement made by arrogant gestures.

Although the origins of all dances are the same, Odyssey dance differs from others in terms of dance style and science. The major dance forms are Tribhangi (dance after bending the body in three places) and Chowkbhangi. In the book Abhinayachandrika, Maheshwar Mohapatra describes in detail the ancient prayers of Odu dance.

The Odyssey dance genre includes the following:

(1) Paadbhed: There are four types of footpaths, Kumbhapada, Dhanupada and Mahapada. But according to tradition, they are also considered as Rekhapad, Nupurpad and Asritpad. Pedestrians are important in this.

(2) Bhumi: The method of moving the dancer on the stage. There are eight types.

(3) Chari: Different types of foot injury. These are related to land.

(4) Bhramari: Types of Girkas. There are three types of bumblebees: monotonous bumblebee, curly bumblebee and limb bumblebee.

(5) Bhangi: Major dance stage. E.g., triangular, square, etc.

(6) Hasta or mudra: These are used in dance to express meaning. There are a total of 48 types.


Saffron is applied to all the limbs of the dancer. ‘Gorchana’ means a reptile-like pattern drawn from the forehead down to the cheeks. There is saffron in the center of the eyebrows. There is a small mole on the chin. Soot is applied to the eyes and eyebrows as well as kumkum to the hands and fingers.


The sari has a distinctive name ‘Pattasaree’ and is a green or red ‘silk’ nouveau. ‘Kanchula’ means a polka with a red or black color, though with an edge. ‘Nibibandh’ means a garment made of fringe. It is built from the back to the front.

The ornaments include a ring on the legs, a bangpatia on the waist, a bracelet on the wrist, a talisman on the hands, a chapasri and a medal on the neck and an alka on the head.


Pure classical music based on different ragas is used according to the different types of these dances. Although Hindustani and Carnatic music are in use, their features are strictly observed. Poetic compositions of Kavisurya Baldev Rath, Gopikrishna, Upendra Bhanj etc. are used in music. Mardal (a type of Mridanga), Gini, pakhavaj, veena, flute are the accompaniment instruments.

Rhythm: These Dhruvadis use the Saptatal system and the specific words in it are called ‘Adasa’.

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