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Chhau Dance

The Chhau dance is indigenous to the eastern part of India. It originated as a martial art and contains vigourous movements and leaps. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many of the princely rulers of the Orissa region took a keen interest in the development of this art. They maintained troupes that performed on special occasions and festivals.

Some Chhau dances use large stylized masks. The depiction of birds and animals is a distinctive feature. There are also heroic dances with sword, bow or shield, with which dancers demonstrate their dexterity. Three styles of Chhau exist born from the three different regions of Seraikella (Bihar), Purulia (West Bengal), and Mayurbhanj (Orissa). Martial movements, strong rhythmic statements and dynamic use of space are characteristic of Chhau. Unlike other Indian Classical dance forms, vocal music in Chhau hardly exists! Instrumental music and a variety of drums like the Dhol, Dhumba, Nagara, Dhansa and Chadchadi provide the accompaniment.

Combining folk, tribal and martial traditions and yet covering the three aspects of Nritta, Nritya and Natya as well as the Tandava and Lasya aspects of classical dance, the Chhau dances are complex combinations of Folk and Classical motifs. Therefore beginners would gain immense guidance and support from professional trainers who would ensure moulding the students with innovative and creative compositions during the training.

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