Orissa has a glorious tradition of music. The figures or dancers musicians Carved on ancient temple walls speak of Orissa’s rich musical heritage. There were saint-poets of Orissa who composed lyrical poems to be sung. Bards usually went from place to place singing these songs which were meant to propagate religious ideas in various religious. instructions were usually given by the poet himself as to how the lyric was to be sung, i.e. the raga or tune to be employed and the tala or beat scheme to be followed. By the 11th Century AD folk music or Orissa existing in the form of Triswari, Chatuhswari, and Panchaswari was modified into the classical style.
Odissi dance is the typical classical dance form of Orissa and has its origin in the temples. The rhythm, the bhangis and mudras used in Odissi dance have a distinctive quality of their own. Odissi dance deals largely with the love theme of Radha and Krishna. It is a lyrical form of dance with its subtelety as its keynote. The intimate relationship experienced between the poetry and music in Odissi is a feature on which the aesthetics of the style is built. Odissi bases itself on a wealth of systematized techniques which make this dance aesthetically appealing and visually delightful. It is a “sculpturesque” style of dance with a harmony of line and movement, all its own. What is interesting about Odissi is that body position is not merely a part of the vocabulary or frame-work. The posture by itself conveys a particular mood or message. The names of these postures too express the moods they represent. The different items of the Odissi dance style are Managlacharna, Batunrya or Sthayi Nata, Pallavi, Abhinaya and Moksha. In mangalacharana the dancer dedicates herself to the Lord and begs forgiveness of the Mother Earth for stamping her feet upon her; she apologises to her audience for any shortcomings and offers salutations to the Guru. Batu Nrytya is pure dance. It begins with a series of sculpturesque poses symbolising the playing of the veena, drum, flute or cymbals. Pallivi is extremely graceful and lyrical. The tune is in some raga and is sung to the accompaniment of Sargam and Bols. Through facial expressions abhinaya depicts rasa and bhava to bring out the meaning and mood of songs. Generally the songs written by poets, Banamali, Upendra Bhanja, Baladeva Rath, Gopala and Jayadeva are sung.
Chhau is an ancient dance form. It originated in the mock fights of the Oriya paikas (warriors) who fought rhythmically to the accompaniment of indigenous music instruments The highly Stylised Chhau dance of today follow the basic principle of the Natya Shastra of Bharat Muni and the Abhinaya Darpana of Nandikeswara. This dance form became closely associated with religion. The Chhau dancers worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, the two presiding deities of the Tandava and the Lasya styles respectively. The typical Chhau dance pose when the dancer at rest is the bent knee so that the legs form a Square, the raising of the, right hand upward with the left hand handing downward both forming right angles the elbow. The Chhau dancers have to practices difficult modes of walk-in, striking difficult postures and moving in a way peculiar to this style. It is a virile dance form and was in the past undertaken by male dancers who performed in female roles, as and when required. Today there are also female dancers who have master this art. The face is generally covered with .the mask of the character who being depicted by the dancer in the Saraikala School of Chhau dance. But in the Mayurbhanj school, the face is left uncovered: Emotions and passions are not depicted by facial expression but by intricate footwork, whirls and jumps. Hence, the wait the feet and the legs are used to depict bhavas. The dance is usually performed in the open air on a raised platform, the musicians stand, on one side of the platform and play on big kettle drums and other musical instruments. In villages, Chhau dance is usually performed during Chaitra parva festival in the days concluding the month of Chaitra. Popular story from the Ramavyna and Mahabharata are staged. The costumes, the headgear and other ornamental requisites are carefully selected., The dance programme consists of solo, duet or Group, performances.
Mahari Tradition of the Sri Mandira is the beautiful Parijata flower of art an history of Utkal. It also makes living by its fragrance and the touch of nationl. It has been doing so far from the time immoral. It has made the art of Utkala glorious Mahari tradition is the same and one union of Lord Jagannath and great Nari Mahari. Mahari Dance coming from the Nata temple of the temple has reached and extended to the stage and shastriya Odissi dance art. Now a days common man having seen the round eye of Lord Jagannath l has become wholeness of Karatali under this remains purity action whollyness of Mahari. It is a prensial emotion of life and heart and sloving. Amongst all who made this mahari dance living and has given to the people in general for publicity and its pride Guru Pankaja Charana Das comes to the foremast rank. He has made the dream ‘fruitful’ . This Mahari awarded is opened for all who take it as a tradition witrh whole heartedness. Now Odissi has climbed the pick lof culture everelst of the world but the proponents of this art , that is the Mahari are numbered and along with them will go this age old tradition of Orissa. We all specially the Oriyas should not forget the contributions made by this great lordies.
The Tribals who constitute about one fourth of the total population of Orissa have very many dances of secular, religious and seasonal in character. Living in the midst of nature their dances and songs are vivid, temperamental and attuned to nature herself. Nature is always the strongest inspiration for them, coupled with the customs and religious heritage.
The colourful spring time dance of the ‘Santals’ with their musical instrument, ‘Madal’ performed by the maidens, their pastoral dance during ripening of grain, the dance of the ‘Kolha’ at the time of planting of the seeds in honour of their deity is performed by men and women. The dances of the Gonds done in dedication to their deity ‘Bhimsen’ at harvesting festival time, marriage celebrations accompanied by several musical instruments like the horned-drums, flutes and many clarions.The spring dance of the ‘Bhattara’ with beautiful dresses, silver ornaments of women, flushed as they move and the colourful turbans of the men stuck with peacock feathers. The ‘Sua’ dance of the Sambalpur tribes performed by the young girls in the spirit of adventure and romance accompanied by drummers and musicians. The ring dance of the ‘Oron’ performed during all festivals and in the spring and autumn seasons in a circle. The women dancers placing their arms at the back of their neighbours and clasping the hands of the next, the courtship dances of ‘Ho’. The ‘Jhadia Paraja’ dance exhibiting graceful movement and artistic skill, the colourful dance of the ‘Gadaba’, the dance of the ‘Koya’s with the headdress of Bison horn. Women dressed in colourful attires with iron sticks in hands making a jingling sound in accompaniment of musical instruments.
The dance of the ‘Kutal Kandha’ with the single stringed ‘Dungadunga’, the peacock, sparrow, vulture, deer dances of ‘Juang’ to the tune of their musical instrument, ‘Changu’ and ‘Badakatha’, and a wide variety of dances clearly give an idea how the culture of the tribals born out of nature and attuned to nature can live and flourish spontaneously. These are just a few representative examples of the tribal dances of Orissa. The tribal dance itself is vast in variety indicating their importance in the social and religious life of the people.