Odissi dance was originally a religious dance performed in the temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri by the 'mahari' or 'servants of god'. After its revival in the early sixties, Odissi became very soon one of the most popular among the classical forms of Indian dance. The quintessence of Odissi lies in its sculpturesque quality; most of its beautiful poses bear close resemblance with the sculptures of the famous temples which once nourished the art.
With its peculiar way of deflecting the hips in the characteristic pose called 'tribhanga' or 'three body bend' and its fluidity and swiftness of body movements, this dance form is considered most sensuous and lyrical. Eroticism and spirituality blend together to overcome the sensuality of the body and merge into the sublime. It comprehends in its repertoire both 'nritta', or exercise of technical virtuosity, and 'nritya' or expressive dance, which draws episodes from the great poems of Indian literature.