(Last Updated on : 25/11/2010)
Performing arts of Orissa
have undergone a long process of evolution and development. The term performing arts mainly encompasses the three art forms of dance, music and drama. All these three different art forms simultaneously maintain their independent identity while also sharing one another's traits. Sometimes they also compliment one another. In case of the Oriya performing arts too one can find both the trends. While the three genres sometimes appear in their pure form, they are also presented sometimes in a package. In almost all their forms and varieties, especially, in ancient Sastric and folk performing arts, dance, drama and music are mixed up or they overlap. But in each species one dominant aspect such as dramatics, dance or music can be identified. For example, in Danda Nata
, there is use of histrionics, dance as well as music. But dance is its dominant aspect. Thus Danda Nata is treated predominantly as a dance form.
The tradition of considering drama, dance and music together as a package in Orissa can be traced back to Emperor Kharavela's time. His famous edict in Udayagiri hill near Bhubaneswar, which according to archaeologists belongs to 2nd century B.C., describes in detail Kharavela's administration, conquest and other activities. In that edict it has been mentioned that the emperor Kharavela was an expert in Gandharva Veda Budha (the expert in Gandharva veda). Gandharva Veda included Darpa (acrobatics and wrestling) Nritya (dance) Geeta (song), Vadya (instrument) and Samaja (drama).
Keeping form as the major criteria, all the performing arts of Orissa are divided into two categories. These are Sastrik and folk or non-Sastrik. By the term Sastrik is meant those art forms which more or less follow the canons laid down in some ancient or modern Sastras. They thus have a long and ancient tradition and are in keeping with strict rules and dictates regarding the various aspects of performance. For instance, the Sastrik dramas in Oriya language are those which have been written following the theories laid down by such authorities as Bharata. On the other hand, folk art forms are those which are not so much in keeping with the Sastras and are more of an evolved art form. They are mostly the dance, music and theatrical performances which deal with the day-to-day life and concerns of the rural people. They express the agrarian lifestyle of the common people, their celebrations, their troubles, their festivities and religious inclinations. These are the two major categories of the performing arts of Orissa.