Saturday, 12 July 2014

Chhau Dance

"Chhau", I definitely didn't have a clue what it actually meant when I read the word for the first time in my niece's Social Studies book. But yeah, having found a picture, I knew "Hey, this was the dance that was featured in Barfi! and was performed by Riddhi and Rakesh in Nach Baliye". All I knew about Chhau then was that this dance involves a mask. But while reading about it in Wikipedia, I found a lot regarding Chhau.

Chhau is actually an Indian tribal martial dance form which is familiar among the people of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa. Chhau doesn't include any graceful dance moves. The dance moves include martial acts and hence usually performed by men. Chhau includes variety of drums like "dhol" for the background music. The theme for the dance includes scenes from epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Since Chhau uses a mask, there is no need of expressions for this type of dance.

Three styles of Chhau

  1. Seraikella Chhau
  2. Mayurbhanj Chhau
  3. Purulia Chhau

In 2010 the Chhau dance was inscribed in the UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Government of Odisha established a Government Chhau Dance Centre in 1960. These institutions engage in training involving local gurus, artists, patrons and representatives of Chhau institutions and sponsor performances. 

The Chaitra Parva festival, significant to the Chhau Dance, is also funded by The Government of Odisha. It is the best form of mask dance. The Sangeet Natak Akademi has taken up specific measures including grants to cultural institutions the establishment of a National Centre for Chhau Dance at Baripada, Odisha.

Chhau dance in Barfi!