Chhau-a traditional dance form of Orissa

Chhau is a ancient dance form popular in the Mayurbhanj region of Orissa. The article will discuss the origin and styles of Chhau dance.

Chhau is a traditional dance form from the Mayurbhanj district of Orissa. There is an interesting anecdote about the origination of Chhau dance. It is believed that this dance form originated in the mock fights of the Oriya paikas (warriors) who fought in a rhythm along with music. Chhau dance today in a modern times is a highly sophisticated and stylist dance form. Today this wonderful dance is based on the principles of Natya Shastra of Bharat Muni and the Abhinaya Darpana of Nandikeswara. Chhau dance is considered to be associated very closely with religion. Chhau dancers are believed to be ardent worshippers of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is believed that Lord Shiva is the deity associated with Tandava and Goddess Parvati is associated with Lasya. Tandava and Lasya dance styles are part of Chhau. Chhau dance is a difficult dance form and its mastery calls for a lot of dedication and hard work. A typical pose of this dance form is one when a dancer stands with a bent knee so as to form a square using the legs. At the same time the right hand should be raised upward while the left hand should be downward and both the hands should be making a right angle with each other. There are various poses of this dance form which are difficult and distinct only to this dance form. In olden days in Chhau dance only male dancers used to perform. They even took over the female roles of the dance as and when required. But today in modern days the Chhau dance has seen a few changes and female dancers are also a part of this dance.
Chhau Dance
Chhau dance has basically two different schools of dance. The two different schools of dance are Saraikala School of Chhau and Mayurbhanj School of Chhau. Saraikala School of Chhau is a popular in Saraikala and other parts of Sighbhum district of Jharkhand. Mayurbhanj School of Chhau on the other hand is popular and well known dance form of Mayurbhanj region of Orissa. There is a basic difference between the Chhau dance forms of these two regions. In Saraikala Chhau the face of the dancer is covered with a mask while in Mayurbhanj Chhau the face of the dancer is not covered. But although the face is not covered in Mayurbhanj Chhau various emotions are never depicted by facial expressions but by feet and body movements.

Chhau dance is usually performed during the popular festival of Chaitra parva. Popular stories from the epics of Ramayan and Mahabharata are staged in the Chhau dance. Chhau dance may be performed either in solo, duet or group performances. Popular characters which are depicted in Chhau dance are female peacock, swan and deer dances. Chhau dance today is highly influenced by the rich folk and tribal culture of north eastern part of Orissa.


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