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Abhinaya Chandrika - Treatise On Odissi Dance Form

Abhinaya Chandrika is a treatise on Odissi dance form. It is written by Maheshwara Mahapatra (1764 CE) of Odisha. An illustrated manuscript of the work is preserved in the Raghunandan Library, Puri in Odisha. Though based on Natyashastra, the work belongs to the regional tradition of Odisha and gives importance to the lasya dance, performance mainly dealing with the theme of love. The procedure is as follows – the dancer comes to the pavilion and after bowing to the teacher, the instruments and mother Earth, begins the first item by offering prayers to Mahadeva Shiva using the sixteen modes – this is followed by worship of Vinayaka ad sabha vandana (obeisance to the assembly). This is followed by Pallavi which is of two kinds, svara and gita. Then, the actual nritta (dance) with the accompaniment of instruments follows. The dance comes to an end with druta (fast) and ananda nritya (dance of bliss).

Odissi dance has now become popular, thanks to Kala Vikas Kendra and its teacher Sri Kelu Charan Mahapatra. The Odissi dancer has some mudras (gestures) which are not found in Natyashastra, for example, akuncana, biraja, banahasta, gajadanta, kalika and pidahasta. The musical instruments used during the performance of Odissi dance are mardal, mandera or gini, tanpura and violin.

Odissi dance is performed to the accompaniment of Odissi songs by the accompanying musicians. At the end of each charana (section) in the song through bhava abhinaya (enactment of psychological states), which is followed by nritta in drutalaya (fast tempo). Odissi gives importance to the kaisiki (charming mode of expression).