In Northern India, apart from Kathak and Manipuri, there
are two important classical dances: Orissi and Chhau.
Orissi, like Bharata Natym, was intended to be performed
in temples as a religious offering. It has intensely
emotional and lyrical structure and themes of its songs
Among the leading performers of Orissi are Sanjukta
Panirgrahi, Indrani Rehman and Sonal Mansingh.
Orissi belongs to Eastern states of Orissa, where there
are a number of institutions providing training in art,
particularly in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.
Chhau dance has three distinct traditions, of which
Seraikella belongs to Bihar, Mayurhhanj to Orissa and
Purulia to West Bengal.
Seraikella and Purulia versions are performed with
masks. Themes are mostly from mythology, but sometimes
inspiration is taken from nature.
In all three regions, Chhau dances are performed
principally only once every year, in mid-April, the time
of Annual Spring Festival.