(Last Updated on : 01/11/2013)
Characteristics of Chhau dance reveal that it based on martial art. It has attached it self with Hindu mythology, religion and culture. It has adopted principles of 'Natyashastra
'. The elements of folk dance and folk life are also included. As it is an oral traditional dance it has many systems of techniques in which many amendments take place in order to enhance the beauty of the dance.
The mask used is the style of Bengali clay modelled represented by Krishnanagar School in Nadia district
. However Chhau dance of Mayurbhanja has discarded the masks altogether as it could not secure the services of competent clay-modellers or the mask-makers and it has been performing Chhau without the masks. The Maharajas' family of Seraikella introduced a new method of making masks, symbolic in character unlike the traditional Purulia masks. They are made by the palace-artists of the Maharaja at the direction of the members of his family.
It is also very significant that appearance and dance of Lord Ganesh
precedes all the items of Chhau dance of Purulia
. Each and every performance begins with a vocal invocation to Ganesha. This is the only ritual part of the performance of Chhau that has been discarded both in Mayurbhanj
and in Seraikella. Use of mask is integrated in the dance itself everywhere and all the techniques of the dance have developed on the basis of its use of the masks.
The heroic element or the Tandava character of the Chhau dance
is also a striking feature. Another characteristic of the dance is Khilan mukhos or replacement of masks. In spur of a moment the masks are replaced or a mask is adjusted in place of the one already held by the artiste within the scene. The mask of Lord Krishna
is replaced by the mask of Kali in full view of the audience within the scene itself.
The Chhau dance technique is based upon 108 postures and movements. Their gaits leaps and Jumps, spiral movements, padachakra, all have a distinct classical tradition. Chhau dance has taken its shape from hand gestures and footsteps as depicted in the 'Natyashastra' of Acharya Bharat.
'Aharyabhinaya' is an important part of the Chhau dance. The typical musical instruments and their techniques 'Tal-Chhanda-laya' have given the Chhau dance a different measure.
Veer Rasa is the dominating sentiment in these dances. Shrinagar Rasa and other sentiments come after this. The sentiments of bravery and love have been expressed well in Sareikala and Mayurbhanj Chhau dances.
Chhau dance is a dance drama in which vocal conversation does not exist. Only
Hand gestures, footsteps and body movements create language and conversation. If the mind is full of anger there will be vigorous forms of body movements which are known as Tandava
style. If the mind is peaceful there will be sweet and gentle form of hand gestures, footsteps and body movements known as lasya.
There is combination of three units: 'Natya', 'Nritya' and 'Nritta' as narrated by Bharata By holding the mask on head, acting of other characters is important. The stories and themes with manifold sentiments are expressed by body movements. The existence of vocal tradition of dance from Guru to disciple is unwritten. The Chhau dance of Mayurbhanj and Purulia have made the inclusion of folk elements and they created very flexibility in their styles.
Chhau dance in the vigorous form is accompanied by various traditional musical instruments like Nagara, Dhol, Pakhawaj, Dhumasa, Turhi. The musical sounds of war dance have been moulded in Indian musicology. A master of music sits nearby the Chhau dancers and pronounces the grammars of Talas produced from Dhol and Drum controls the whole situations of the motions of beatings.