Odissi is a very graceful and lyrical dance form with distinctive torso movements and sculptural poses that gives it a sensuous quality. According to archeological evidence, Odissi may well claim to be the earliest dance form of India.
Odissi originated as a form of worship in the temples of Orissa. The Devadasis (dancing girls) performed dance as a part of the daily ritual. Under the patronage of kings from various dynasties, several temples were built and music and dance flourished with the passage of time. With successive political changes, the Odissi dance moved from the temple to the courts of the king and then to the street where it became a mode of entertainment performed by boys (Gotipuas) dressed as girls. The sophistication and austerity of the original form was lost.
Later, in the post-independence era, the scholars and gurus of Odissi, such as Late Padmavibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra, used the reference from temples, carvings, and scriptures to revive the dance from the Gotipua and Devadasi forms, and restored it to its current refined form.