Vibrant are the dance forms of Odisha and spectacular is the way they are performed. We have curated a list of this exuberance which has since years preserved the rich cultural heritage of the state. Let’s get enlightened on Odisha’s unique dance forms that look beautiful in their distinctive ways!
1) Chhau Dance
Chhau is an ancient form of dance which is believed to have been originated in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. It got founded during the mock fights of Odia paikas (warriors) who fought rhythmically to the accompaniment of indigenous musical instruments. It’s performed during the Chaita Parva and comprises of four stages of development. Masks worn during this performance are of vital importance as they are used to convey emotions and the nature of the character.
2) Gotipua Dance
Gotipua is a traditional dance form of Odisha symbolizing its rich cultural heritage. The classical and most famous dance of Odissi owes its origin to the Gotipua dance. The Gotipuas are mostly young boys, from 6-14 years of age who dress as females and perform the dance with high degree of sophistication, just like any other female dancer. Even though the Gotipua dance is relevant to the Odissi style but it varies in its technique, costumes and presentation.
3) Odissi Dance
This is a unique classical dance form which has its origin from the temples. Over the centuries, Odissi has been developed under 3 schools namely Mahari, Nartaki, and Gotipua. Mahari has its roots from the devadasi tradition where women who were attached to deities in the temple used to dance. Next is Nartaki which was developed in the royal courts. Lastly, Gotipua style where young boys perform in female clothing. A normal Odissi dance style comprises of Mangalacharana, Batu Nrutya, Pallavi, Abhinaya & Moksha.
4) Ghumura Dance
Ghumura is a traditional folk dance of Kalahandi district which has gained much popularity in the western parts of Odisha. It is performed by male dancers only who wear indigenous costumes. Many believe it to be a war dance that was used to provoke the warriors. This dance still remains to be hidden in the village level of South-western Odisha and in some other places. Still Kalahandi region has a foremost decree in popularizing & maintaining the distinctiveness of Ghumura dance.
5) Ranapa Dance
Ranapa literally means a stilt. In this dance form, the dancers stand upon stilts and dance with utmost ease. It is rampant among the cowherd communities primarily in Ganjam district of Odisha. Young boys of this community perform during festivals of Dola Yatra & Giri Govardhan Puja. They wear anklets which produce jingling sounds and sing songs about the childhood days of Lord Krishna. The dance comprises of many acrobatic feats and certain martial arts skills.
6) Jodi Sankha Dance
Jodi Sankha or Double Conch is a unique representation of rural music. In this, the artists wear colourful costumes and perform to the music played. While blowing the conch, the artists display harmony between the inflection of the conch. This form is known to be a popular folk dance in Ganjam district. Apart from Badya and Sanhka, instruments like Mahuri and Changu-baja are also used to combine together the melodies in a rhythmic form.
7) Chaiti Ghoda Dance
Also known as Dummy horse dance, this is a folk dance form performed by the fishermen community of Odisha. It is connected with the Shakti cult of coastal regions and the performance team includes a male and female character apart from the musical accompaniers. The Rauta, male character is the main singer cum commentator who delivers the main part of mythology while the Rautani, female character plays the role of Rauta’s wife as his co-singer and dancer. The dance is made lively with off the cuff dialogues and hilarious episodes.
8) Sambalpuri folk dance
It is a typical folk dance form of western Odisha that continues to create a perennial effect in the minds of the audience. The songs and performances of this form comprise of the typical touch of tribal and rural cultures. The performing artists are young women of various tribes from different districts of Odisha. In this, the male artists join the female ones as drummers and musicians. The dance is accompanied by a number of instruments known as Dhol, Mahuri and many more.
9) Bagha Nacha
Bagha Nacha is another folk dance form of Odisha which is widely spread and enjoyed by many. This form is also known as Tiger dance. Here the male dancers who perform paint their bare body with yellow and black stripes just like that of a tiger’s skin and attach a tail at their back to look like a tiger. The dancers of Bagha Nacha perform this dance form in various festivals.
10) Paika Nrutya
Having derived its origin from the Odia word Paika meaning soldier, Paika Nrutya is a war dance that is famous in Khurda district. The artists put on colourful turbans & dhotis and come one by one to the stage in quick order with sword and shield in their hand. The dance is done in two groups where one group is the attacking one while the other is the defensive one. This form of dance is done my male members only. Besides Odisha, Piaka Nrutya is also practised in Jharkhand.
Apart from these, there are several other dance forms that are performed in the outskirts of Odisha but are almost on the verge of becoming extinct. We can only hope that during the upcoming times these dance forms are promoted in the best way possible so that people get to know its real beauty.