Bharatanatyam vs Odissi: Difference and Comparison

Culture varies from region to region across the globe and the frequencies could be measured from continent to continent. It teaches people while also entertaining them.

Depending on ethnic diversity, Indian culture has a unique position. Dance is one sort of instruction among several available in festivities.

In this work, a comparison of two distinct dances, Bharatanatyam as well as Odissi, is made. The clothing, percussion equipment, jewelry, and dancing routines of the two styles of classical Indian dances are umpired.

Key Takeaways

  1. Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form from Tamil Nadu, emphasizes rhythmic footwork and intricate hand gestures, while Odissi, originating from Odisha, showcases fluid movements and graceful poses.
  2. Bharatanatyam dancers wear elaborate costumes and jewelry, while Odissi dancers don more simple yet elegant attire.
  3. Both dance forms tell stories through expressions and gestures, with Bharatanatyam focusing on Hindu mythology and Odissi featuring various themes, including love, devotion, and the divine.

Bharatanatyam vs Odissi

Bharatanatyam is a dance form that originated in Tamil Nadu, a state in Southern India with sharp, rhythmic footwork, intricate hand gestures, and expressive facial expressions. Odissi is a dance from the state of Odisha with fluid, graceful, intricate footwork and expressive hand gestures.

Bharatanatyam vs Odissi

Bharatanatyam, a culturally enriched Indian classical dance style and possibly listed amongst India’s greatest classical dance traditions ever, is recognized as the parent of several other Indian classical dance genres.

It began in the Hindu temple-towns as well as temples of Tamil Nadu as just a solo dance conducted solely by ladies as well as subsequently thrived in South India.

The strong underpinning of this style may be traced back to ‘Natya Shastra,’ an ancient Sanskrit Hindu treatise on the cultural dancing genres.

Odissi is a traditional dance-drama theatrical style of classical dance in which the artist, as well as performers, act out a narrative, a divine message, or a spiritual poem from Hindu scriptures, utilizing representational outfits, movement patterns, distinct ability (expressions), as well as ‘mudras’ (gestures and sign language) from ancient Sanskrit literary works.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonBharatanatyamOdissi
OriginBharatanatyam originated from Tamil Nadu and it carries representation of the entire Southern India.Odissi is a folk dance performance art form in which the artist(s) as well as performers act out a tale, a divine message, or a devotional couplet.
StyleIt is distinguished by intricate hand gestures portrayed through sign language (Mudras) and controlled movement consisting of a half squat (Aramandi).Odissi has greater torso motion, which enhances its beauty. As a result, Odissi is preferred to Bharatnatyam Dance.
HistoryBharatanatyam is quite old and is considered the oldest classical dance form in India.Odissi is old but not older than bharatanatyam.
LoresThese consist of South Indian History and culture.Lores told in odissi consist of Odia culture and historical stories.
TitleMother of all Indian Classical Dances.Oldest of the eight classical dance forms.

What is Bharatanatyam?

As per Hindu Dharma, the identity of this dance form has been derived by combining two phrases, ‘Bharata’ as well as Natyam’, in which ‘Natyam’ in Sanskrit or rather indigenous to Prakrit language itself implies dance and ‘Bharata’ is a notation consisting of ‘bha’, ‘ra’, as well as ‘ta’, which respectively indicate ‘bhava’ that is feeling and emotions; ‘raga’ that is a ballad; and ‘tala’

Therefore, the term refers to a dance style in which bhava, raga, and tala are conveyed together with uniform blend, making it very appealing to art and culture enthusiasts.

Bharatanatyam began in Hindu religious sites in Tamil Nadu and neighboring provinces and quickly spread to certain other South Indian institutions.

According to some historians, the Devadasi trend evolved under the patronage of the royals, who observed temple dancers known as Devadasis, who were committed to serving the Lord as dasis or slaves, executing the dance style, from 300 BCE to 300 CE.

Devadasi tradition ultimately became an intrinsic feature of ceremonies in South Indian temples.

India’s Ancient epic Silappatikaram provides an impressive outlook of Bharatanatyam from the 2nd century CE, plus temple paintings from the 6th to 9th centuries CE indicate it was a finely perfected performing art by the mid-1st millennium CE.

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Bharatanatyam is India’s biggest classical dance form. The dance genre was popular at that time in Southern Tamil Nadu, and was portrayed in various publications, including Bharat Muni’s Natya Shastra, documented it.

Tamil Nadu’s state traditional dance is Bharatanatyam.

bharatanatyam 1

What is Odissi?

Odissi is a folk dance performance art form in which the artist(s), as well as performers, act out a tale, a divine message, or a devotional couplet from Hindu texts, employing symbolic outfits, movement patterns, abhinaya (declarations), as well as mudras (gesticulations and body language) from ancient Sanskrit Texts literary works.

For the abhinaya, medieval Odia writings and the Gitagovinda are put to classic Odissi melody. Odissi is learned and executed as a synthesis of fundamental dance motifs known as Bhangas (symmetric stances and gestures).

It combines lower (footwork), middle (torso), and higher (hand or head) expressiveness and spectator involvement with geometric symmetry as well as rhythmic melodic resonance.

Odissi performers frequently declare that it is the earliest of both the Indian and classical dances, using the Natyashastra to back up their beliefs.

This treatise, widely regarded as the underpinning theory of all traditional Indian performing arts, references an Odra-Magadhi dance form, something that many academics see as a forerunner of twentieth-century Odissi.

Archeological evidence discovered from places mostly around Bhubaneswar supports these claims, proving unequivocally that dancing existed in these areas since very old history.


Main Differences Between Bharatanatyam and Odissi 

  1. Bharatanatyam originated from Tamil Nadu whereas Odissi originated from Odisha.
  2. Bharatnatyam is less expressive and more lore-telling whereas Odissi is much more expressive and requires lots of mudras and gestures.
  3. Bharatnatyam is older than Odissi in comparison to its origin and spread.
  4. Bharatanatyam is a type of Indian Classical dance form whereas Odissi is the oldest amongst the 8 classical Indian dance forms.
  5. Bharatanatyam revolves around lores and ‘Katha’ of Tamil Nadu and Southern India whereas, Odissi.
Difference Between Bharatanatyam and Odissi

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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