Famous Folk Dances of Odisha (Orissa) are :
Chhow Dance - Famous Folk Dances of Odisha (Orissa) Chhow Dance--An ancient dance form, mostly prevalent in areas of Mayurbhanj district, and which originated in the mock fights of the Oriya warriors, is known for its masculine vitality. Chhow of Sareikela (Jharkhand) and Purulia (West Bengal) are slightly different dance forms from that of the Mayurbhanj of Odisha (Orissa), performed during the Chaita Paraba in open air on a raised platform.
This dance includes both tandava and lasya elements represented by Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati respectively. The percussion instruments, like traditional drums and other musical instruments, are generally played. Intricate feet movements, whirls and jumps depict the emotions rather than the facial expressions. Hence the feet, the legs and the waist are used to depict bhavas. It is a thematic dance presenting popular episodes from the epics and Puranas.
The Chhow dance begins with ranga vadya--an ensemble of indigenous musical instruments which inspires the dancers, followed by the orchestra taking up the initial tune of the dance in slow steps. In the next stage, 'nata', the thematic contents of the performance and the drama, is built up. The concluding stage is 'nataki' when the vigorous movements of the dancers develop a high tempo. An equally popular, a form of battle or martial dance, Paika exhibits tactics of warfare.
Other folk dances include the Chaitighoda, or the dummy horse dance, a traditional fishermen's dance. The dancer inside the horse frame displays the galloping movements of a horse with two other characters the Rauta and the Rautani singing and dancing along to entertain the audience nightlong.
The girls in Sambalpur area dance and sing Dalkhai to the beats of drums, timkis and nisans, a performance in which at times the lover raises some questions in the form of a song and her beloved reciprocates accordingly.
The most ancient of folk dances of Odisha (Orissa), the Danda Nata is a culture where Lord Shiva and his consort Gori are propitiated. The bhaktas (devotees) do severe penance by walking on a bed of red hot live charcoal, stand on edged swords or pierce their tongues or skin with iron nails.
In a rural dance, the Medha Nacha, the performer puts a mask and dances to the rhythms of the enchanting music in a religious procession. Made of paper machie, mask can be human, divine or animal.
Odisha (Orissa) Tribal Dances--The colorful costumes of the tribes with headgear made of animal horns and shells and their dances to the accompaniment of drums, flutes and string instruments leave the audience spell bound. These lively and spontaneous dances still continued to be performed on the occasions of birth, death, naming ceremony, marriages, changing seasons and numerous fairs and festivals. The dancers are mostly performed by groups of men and women and accompanied by a song.
The Changu Dance and the Karma dance are also some of the tribal dances of Odisha (Orissa). The styles of dance and music by Saura, Gond, Koya, Kondh and Gadba tribe are mostly varied.