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Odissi

It is one of the oldest surviving forms of dance, with depictions of Odissi dancing dating back as far as the 1st century BC. Like other forms of Indian classical dance, the Odissi style traces its origins back to antiquity. Dancers are found depicted in bas-relief in the hills of Udaygiri (near Bhubaneswar) dating back to the 1st century BC. The Natya Shastra speaks of the dance from this region and refers to it as Odra-Magadhi.

Over the centuries two schools of Odissi dance developed: Mahari, and Gotipua. The Mahari tradition is similar to the devadasi tradition; these are women who are attached to deities in the temple. Gotipua is a style characteristed by the use of young boys dressed up in female clothing to perform female roles which was a result of Vaishnava philosophy in Orissa in the 16th century.

Odissi dance was held in high esteem before the 17th century. Nobility were known for their patronage of the arts, and it was not unheard of for royalty of both sexes to be accomplished dancers. However, after the 17th century, the social position of dancers began to decline. Dancing girls were considered to be little more than prostitutes, and the "Anti-Nautch" movement of the British brought Odissi dance to near extinction.

FYI: This is the maximum quality of the photograph I could get. I scanned the negative and realized a lot of grain because of lowlight. Converting it to b/w slightly lessened the grain effect, after some adjustment in PS.

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