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Breaking Stereotypes with Grace – Gotipua Dance Form!

Gotipua is a traditional dance form originated in Odisha which is breaking away all the Sterotypes of toxic masculinity in our society. Being the only dance form where, only boys perform dressed as girls, Gotipua is a progressive form of art. It is performed by small boys to praise Lord Krishna and Lord Jagannath.

Gotipua dance is the precursor of the odishi classical dance. Loosely translated Gotipua means ‘Single Boy’. Gotipua started in a small but historic village named Raghurajpur in Odisha which is known for its Gotipua troupes.

  • HISTORY: Long ago, the temples in Odhisa had female dancers known as ‘Devadasis’ (or ‘Maharis’), who were devoted to Lord Jagannath, and gave rise to Mahari dance. Sculptures of dancers on bas-reliefs in temples in Orissa demonstrate this ancient tradition. With the decline of Mahari dancers around the 16th century during the reign of Raja Ram Chandra Dev of Bhoi Dynasty, the male dancers continued this tradition fighting the deep rooted stereotypes of male behavior. Gotipua dance resembles closely the Odissi style, but the technique, costumes and presentation differ from those of the Maharis and the singing is done by the dancers themselves.

Odissi dance is a combination of Tandava (vigorous, masculine) and Lasya (graceful, feminine) dances. Fluidity in the upper torso is characteristic of Odissi dance, often compared to the sea waves caressing Odisha’s beaches. Every year, the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre organises the Gotipua Dance Festival in Bhubaneswar.

  • DANCERS: The boys usually start to learn this dance form quite early because they need to execute acrobatic-like movements. The boys learn Gotipua from an early age to adolescence until their androgynous features start to disappear.

The boys do not cut their hair as they braid them and weave them with garlands of flowers for the dance. They apply makeup on their faces and adorn themselves with enticing traditional jewelry. ‘Kajal’ (eyeliner) is applied on their eyes to give their eyes an elongated and expressive look. Each troupe has their own unique version of traditional face paintings which is made by sandalwood.


  • BANDHA NRUTYA – The major attraction of this dance apart from the beautiful boys is the ‘Bandha Nrutya’ – a dance that uses acrobatic figures and movements. Musical accompaniment is provided by the Mardala (a two-headed drum, a percussion instrument in Orissa), Gini (small cymbals), Harmonium, Violin, Flute and one or two vocalists. Some Bandhas are found in oral tradition; these include:
  • Chira (welcome pose)
  • Padmasana (lotus pose)
  • Hansa (swan; represents wisdom, grace and beauty and is a vehicle for the goddess Saraswati)
  • Mayura (peacock; sacred bird of Hindu mythology, whose feathers adorn Krishna’s head)
  • Chara Mayura (grazing peacock, representing splendor and majesty)
  • Keli kadamba (holy tree under which Krishna played)
  • Garuda (mythical eagle; vehicle of Vishnu)
  • Kandarpa Ratha (chariot of Kandarpa, god of love)
  • Sagadi (wheel, representing the wheels of Jagannath’s chariot)
  • Nauka (boat)
  • Kaliyadalan (the defeat of Blacksnake by Krishna)
  • Bakasura (Bhima killng Bakasura in Mahabharata )



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