Short Introduction to Odissi

Compiled by Sonakshi Gopi


Odissi, also known as Orissi is one of the eight classical dance forms of India. It originates from the state of Odisha, in eastern India. It is the oldest surviving dance form of India on the basis of archaeological evidences. The  classic  manual  book  of Indian dances, Natya Shastra, refers to it as Odra-Magadhi. 1st century BCE bas-reliefs in the hills of Udaygiri (near Bhubaneshwar) testify to its antiquity.

Famous exponents of Odissi are guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Protima Bedi, Sonal Mansingh, etc.

Dance movements and music

It is distinguished from other dance forms by the importance it places upon the Tribhangi –  the movement of chin, chest and pelvis and upon the basic square stance known as Chauka or Chouka that symbolises Lord Jagannath. This dance is characterised by various Bhangas (Stance), which involves stamping of the foot and striking various postures as seen in Indian sculptures.

Odissi was initially performed in the temples as a religious offering by the Maharis who dedicated their lives in the services of God.

Odissi dance is accompanied by Odissi music, a synthesis of four classes of music, i.e. Dhruvapada,ChitrapadaChitrakala and Panchal.

Costume and jewellery

The jewellery is made from intricate filigree silver called Tarakasi. The jewellery pieces are an important part of the female Odissi dancer’s costume. This jewellery includes Tahiya ,Seenthi , Mathami or Matha Patti , Allaka , Kapa, an ear chain, Jhumkas, a short necklace and a longer necklace with a hanging pendant, Bahichudi, a pair of Kankana (bangles) at the wrist, an elaborate belt and a pair of ankle bells The dancer’s palms and soles are painted with red coloured dye called the Alta.

The Saree worn by Odissi dancers are generally sambhalpuri and bomkai, coloured with bright shades of orange, purple, red or green.

(About the author: Sonakshi, all of eleven years, is a bubbly, enthusiastic student who has just started classes at ARPANA. The ARPANA blog hopes to receive more of her contributions and share in her dance-discoveries!)




Social tagging: > > >


  1. Odissi – A brief intro . . . – alayadannu

Leave a Reply