Odissi is the classical dance style that originates from the state of Orissa. Some consider it the oldest dance form in India based on archaeological evidence, such as the reliefs (dated 1st century BC) found in the hills near Bhubaneshwar and sculptures (dated 2nd century BC) in the caves of Udaygiri. Like Bharata Natyam, the dances were devotional in nature and performed in temples as sacred rites. The women, also known as servants of god, like the Devadasis, where called Maharis.
Later the dance shifted from the temples to the royal courts during the Moghul period. Content shifted from devotion to Siva or Lord Jagannath to lyrical stories like the Gita Govinda. Like Bharata Natyam, it was suppressed and misunderstood under the rule of the British and had a rebirth in the 20th century.
Odissi is distinguished primarily by its sculpture-like form, or tribhang position-literally meaning 3 part break, where the head, chest and pelvis are in opposition. In contrast to the tribhang, there is the more square and even chouka position. As in Bharata Natyam, Odissi relies upon mudra (hand gestures), abhinaya (facial expressions), and nritta (pure dance movements) as means of divine dance in motion.
If you are interested and are in the Mysore area, please contact my teacher Sindhu Kiran.