Odisha is well-known for its world famous Classical Dance Odissi. Odissi is a major ancient Indian classical dance and originated in the Hindu temples of Odisha. Earlier Odissi was performed primarily by women but now-a-days it is also performed by men. Religious stories and spiritual ideas, particularly of Vaishnavism, and also other traditions such as related to Hindu gods Shiva and Surya, as well as Hindu goddesses are expressed in different forms of Odissi. Odissi is a highly inspired, passionate, enthusiastic and luscious dance form. The position of Odissi dance was very bad before Independence. After India gained independence there began great efforts to revive the Indian classical dances. The Odissi tradition existed in three schools: Mahari, Nartaki, and Gotipua.
Odissi dance sequence starts with an entreaty called Mangalacharana. Then a shloka is sung in praise of a God or Goddess, the meaning of which is expressed through dance. Mangalacharan is followed by Pushpanjali and Bhumi Pranam. Batu is the next sequential step performed. The dance consists of an expressional dance which is a play of a song or poetry. In Odissi the dancer(s) narrate the story in sign language, using mudras, bhavas, and eye and body movement. In this dance usually Hindu mythology, epics and legendary dramas are chosen as themes. The final part of Odissi is the inclusion of Mokshya.
The Odissi dancers are colorfully dressed with makeup and jewelry. The Odissi dancers wear brightly colored sari, and usually of local silk. The dancers wear silver jewelry, a metal favored in regional tradition. The hair of dancers is tied up, and typically drawn into an ornamented bun, and decorated with Seenthi. The dancer wears a pair of armlets. Dancers wear Kankana (bangles) on their wrist. They wear an elaborate belt which ties down one end of the Sari. Their ankles are decorated with a leather piece on top of which there are bells (ghungroo). A red colored dye called the Alta is used to paint the dancer’s palms and soles.
In Odissi dance Ragas and Raginis, form of visualized music are used. It includes both south and north Indian Ragas. Odissi performers come with musicians and musical instruments. The musical instruments are such as Pakhawaj (Barrel drum), Tabla, Harmonium, Flute, Sitar, Violin, Swaramandal etc.