Odissi, which originated from Orissa, is one of the eight classical dance forms of India. Odissi as a dance originated from the dances performed in the temples. The uniqueness of this form of dance is the importance it places on expressions using face and hands and the 'tribhangi' posture where the head, middle body and lower body move independently.
Folk dances are more from the heart than the brain. They have minimal rules and are easier so that they can be performed by the masses.
Sambalpuri dance is probably one of the most well known folk dances of Orissa. More than the dance it is the rhythm of the music accompanying the Sambalpuri dance that is attractive.
Ghumura is a folk dance from Kalahandi area of Orissa. Men perform this dance depicting war scenes. Each performer plays an instrument (typically a drum) and dances simultaneously as well.
Ghoda Nacha (Horse Dance) is a form of folk dance where the dancer puts himself inside a hollow horse made out of cloth and banboo and dances to a music. These dances typically depict tales from mythology.
Pala and Daskathia is a form of witty poetry recitation where a few people with musical instruments dance and sing witty poems. The themes of their songs can be both devotional or any other form of poetry or jokes.
There are several other forms of folk dances practiced in the interiors of Orissa, mostly by the tribals. These dances typically involve the men playing musical instruments and women (and sometimes men) holding each other and dancing while singing.
Martial Arts & Dance
The Paika Dance of Orissa is a form of dance showcasing martial art and swordsmanship skills. This was traditionally performed by the strong infantry men in the era of the Gajapati kings of Orissa. The dancers (fighters) practice in a place called the Paika Akhada (Fighter's Club) where the seniors guide and teach techniques to the newly initiated.
Below is an illustration of several traditional musical instruments used, mostly in the folk music and dances. There are too many small variations in the pictures below and I am not so knowledgeable about them to name them correctly. A few prominent instruments are:
- Turi and Kahali: Similar to clarion and trumpet but without a reed
- Mahuri: A blowing instrument like Shehanai
- Sankha: Conch shell blown into to produce music
- Daskathi & Ram Tali: Wooden clappers that can produce rhythmic patterns of amazing variety and of very fast tempo.
- Khanjani: (See below)
Bell Metal Percussion Instruments:
- Khanjani: Pair of wooden frames set with small metal discs. The wooden frames are held in two fingers of the same hand and clapped together to produce both wooden clapping sound and metallic tinkling sounds.
- Ghungroo & Ghagudi: Small & big tinklers
- Jhanja & Karatala: Brass alloy cymbals
- Ghanta: Bell metal disc hit with a cane stick
Stringed Percussion Instruments:
- Behala: Violin
- Kendera: A small violin like instrument made of a few strings pulled tight across a cane or bamboo stick with a coconut shell on one end.
- Dhuduki or Ghooduki:Instrument made with one string tied with a wooden stick inside a wooden or pumpkin shell covered with animal skin.
- Mrudanga: Double sided drum made of wood or clay with animal skin covering both sides.
- Dhola: Drums
- Khola: Double headed clay drum
- Madala: Large earthen drum
- Nisana: Giant sized drum made of iron case
- Tamki: Tiny one sided drum around 6" in diameter played by two sticks
- Tasa: One sided drum
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