Orissa has a glorious tradition of music.The figures of dancers and 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.
The Odissi is one of the six acknowledged classical dance forms of India. Like all other Indian classical dances, for that matter like all Indian art forms, it has its initiation in religion and Philosophy. It has its origin in the temples of Odisha. The Rhythm, Bhangis and Mudras used in Odissi dance have a distinct style of its own. Odissi dance is performed mainly with the theme of infinite love of Radha and Krishna. It is the most lyrical and graceful classical dance form of India. Odissi is now one amongst the classical dance form which has touched the art connoisseurs and the general people in every parts of the world. It is noted for its sclupturesque poses lyrical movement. Evolved over the centuries this unspoilt and carefully preserved dance of Odisha is characterized by a fluid grace and captivating beauty exposed through its elegant postures, charming, gestures, and sensuous bends of body.
Odissi Music is a classical form consisting of all the necessary ingredients common to Hindustani and Carnatic Music such as raga and tala. Jayadev was the first Odia poet who composed lyrics meant to be sung and thus the words of those lyrics were musical to start with. Odissi music has a distinctive character, which has carved its own niche in the relam of Indian classical musical sound (svara) and the treatment of voice production are reminiscent of both Hindustani and Carnatic ragas.
The archeological evidences historical facts, itinerary and documentary proofs, oral tradition handed down from generation to generation, style of presentation, grammatical and technical aspects prompt us to believe that “Odissi” is significantly one of the important streams of Indian classical music with a rich treasure of musical renderings like chhanda, champu, chautisha and the lyrics of Geet Govinda of Jayadeva etc.
Gotipua-the earlier form of Odissi dance, is a fascinating folk dance of Puri where boys below14 years clad in female dress dance to the tune at the music.The acrobatic poses attached to the dance enthralls the audience.This dance is becoming very popular.The Gotipua team of Raghurajpur has earned much reputation.In this tradition one can detect jerking movements in place of smooth translations from one posture to another.
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 .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. Today, the subject matter of Chhau dance is borrowed from the whole gamut of animate and inanimate nature. The female peacock, swan and deer dances depict the wild beauty and grace of the form and are excellently choreographed.
The Pala is a long musical narrative punctuated with explanations, rendered By a singer (gayaka) accompanied by a band of lour to five persons, one cymbals plays on a drum (mridanga) and the others playing musical instruments like cymbals. The pala singer describes episodes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana or other Puranic Texts.
Jatra corresponds to folk theatre. It is the enactment of a play with a cast and comprises music, dance, acting, singing and dramatic conflict. Earlier, religious values were communicated to the masses through the powerful medium of Jatra. Today, the style of writing plays for jatras has undergone changes. Jatra plays now no longer limited to the mythological, historical or fantastical subjects include social themes to suit modern taste.