History of Gotipua Dance In English

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History of Gotipua Dance In English

Gotipua Dance

  • Gotipua is a traditional dance form in the Indian state of Odisha, and is the forerunner of Odissi classical dance.
  • It has been performed in Orissa for centuries by young boys who dress up as women to praise Jagannath and Krishna.
  • The dance is performed by a group of boys who perform acrobatics inspired by the lives of Radha and Krishna.
  • Boys start learning to dance at an early age until adolescence, when their androgynous form changes.
  • In Oriya language, gotipua means “single boy” (goti-pua). Raghurajpur, Odisha (near Puri) is a historic village known for its Gotipua dance troupes.
  • The dance of Gotipua is accompanied by traditional Odissi music, with the primary rhythm being Mardala.


  • Boys do not cut their hair to become beautiful female dancers, rather they tie it in knots and weave garlands of flowers into it.
  • They make their faces with a mixture of white and red powder. Kajal (black eyeliner) is widely applied around the eyes to make them appear longer.
  • Bindi, usually round, is placed on the forehead, surrounded by a pattern made of sandalwood. Traditional drawings adorn the face, which are unique to each dance school.
  • Attire has evolved over time. The traditional dress is the Kanchula, a brightly colored blouse with glittering decorations.
  • An apron-like, embroidered silk cloth (Nibibandha) is tied around the waist like a ruffle and worn around the legs.
  • The dancers wear specially designed beaded jewellery: necklaces, bracelets, armlets and ear ornaments.
  • Nose-piercing jewelery has been replaced with painted motifs. Ankle bells are worn to emphasize the beats coming from the feet.
  • The palms of the hands and the soles of the feet are painted with a red liquid known as alta. The dress, jewelery and bells are considered sacred.


  • Long ago, Orissa had female dancers known as devadasis (or mahari) in temples dedicated to Jagannath, which gave rise to the mahari dance.
  • Sculptures of dancers in bas-reliefs in temples in Orissa (and the Konark Surya and Jagannath temples at Puri) reflect this ancient tradition. With the decline of Mahri dancers around the 16th century during the reign of Rama Chandra Deva (who founded the Bhoi dynasty), boy dancers continued the tradition in Orissa.
  • Gotipua dances are in the Odissi style, but their techniques, costumes and presentation differ from those of Mehri; The singing is done by the dancers.
  • Present Odissi dance is influenced by Gotipua dance. Most of the masters of Odissi dance (such as Kelucharan Mohapatra of Raghurajpur) were Gotipua dancers in their youth.
  • Odissi dance is a combination of Tandava (vigorous, masculine) and Lasya (graceful, feminine) dances.
  • It has two basic postures: Tribhangi (in which the body is kept bent at the head, torso and knees) and Chowka (a square-like stance symbolizing Jagannath).
  • Fluidity in the upper torso is characteristic of Odissi dance, which is often compared to the gentle ocean waves lapping the Orissa beaches.
  • Every year, the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Research Center organizes the Gotipua Dance Festival in Bhubaneswar.