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odissiOrissi is a dance form from the state of Orissa, in eastern India. Sculptures found in Orissa, dating from the 100's B.C., show dancers in distinctive poses characteristic of the Orissi style. The style developed from musical plays and was common in temples and village entertainments. Orissi dances were first performed by women. Later, men dressed as women performed them around temples.

Now the Orissi style is a solo dance form, usually performed by a woman. It has many of the same patterns and poses as Bharata Natyam. But it makes greater use of curves in its body movements and postures. Jumps add vitality to the Orissi style.

Just as food without salt is inedible, so is Orissi dance inconceivable without rendering from Jaydeva's Geeta Govinda. From the days of Devadasis or Sevadasis offering their souls through the art of dancing and music in the great temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri. Geeta Govinda has formed the very basis upon which the superstructure of Orissan dance rests.

odissi1 Geeta Govinda is said to have originated in the first decade of the 12th century. The theme is singing the praises of Lord Krishna and Shri Radhika through hymns or verses Known as Leela kirtana about the first half of the 12th century. A new form came to be worshipped in Orissa , that of the Jugal Rupa of Jagannath and Nirmala Devi who represent Shri Krishna and Radha or the Shakti and the Shaktimaan.

The temple of Jagannath at Puri was built between 1112 and 1147 A.D. during the reign of Maharaja Chola Ganga Deva. The great devotee Jayadeva sang his hymns at the feet of the Lord of the Universe every day accompanied by Padmavati who was dedicated to the temple as a Sivadasi. The sweet and captivating music filled the heart of thousands of devotees and pilgrims who thronged to the temple everyday and this became a household tradition.

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