This dance originates on the eastern coast of India in the Hindu temples. The purpose of this dance is to convey religious practices and ideas as well as traditional stories of the Hindu gods Surya and Shiva. Once again, this dance roots back to the Hindu Sanskrit text of Natya Shastra. This dance puts an emphasis on costumes, as they symbolize a variety of themes and ideas being portrayed. In addition, the entire body is utilized to display the ideal rhythmical balance and poise of the dance. Acrobatic movements are oftentimes involved, and this dance was originally performed by women as a spiritual movement, or by boys dressed as girls.
Definitions for clarification:
Mangal Charan- A type of Mantra
Mantra- A prayer
Abhinayas- The art of expression, including the hand gestures and facial expressions.
Pallavis- a pure dance component based on various ragas
The Learning Process:
In Odissi the first item learned is the Mangala Charan (a mantra). The Mangal Charan is dedicated to a certain god or goddess. After learning the Sthayi or Batu, a pure dance item, is learned.
Learned along side with these components the different types of abhinayas are learned.
The students learn various taals ( beat cycles) in their study.
Next topic taught are the Pallavis which is a pure dance based on various ragas.
Finally the last item learned is Mokshya, and it is traditionally the conclusion to a student study of the dance. The graduaiton dance is called the Mancha Pravesh.
Throughout the course of study the student learns the history and famous gurus of the dance