Gotipua, an ancient dance form of Orissa, is traditionally performed by boys.

It was an awe-inspiring feat and students of Aravinda High School Greenfields sat spell-bound. The campus of Kunchanapalli in Tadepalli mandal of Guntur district came alive with a scintillating performance of Gotipua dance, a majestic folk art form of Orissa, by a troupe of artists from Konark Natya Mandap in Konark. Led by the team coordinator Bhabani C. Biswal, the team showcased its talent dedicated to the memory of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan.

Amazing grace

The graceful feminine dancers sported an elaborate hair-do in a knot with garlands of flowers woven into the hair. The revelation that the dancers clad in traditional dance attire and performing acrobatic feats with remarkable ease was actually an all-boys team surprised many. The costume, jewellery and ankle bells are all considered sacred in this dance form.

In Oriya language, “Goti” means “single” and “Pua” means “boy”. For centuries, the Gotipua dance has been performed in Orissa by young boys who dress up as female to praise Lord Jagannath who is Lord Krishna.

It was originally performed by a single boy. Now it is executed by a group of boys who perform acrobatic figures inspired by the life of Radha and Krishna. The boys begin to learn the dance at an early age and perform until adolescence.

In ancient times, the temples of Orissa had female dancers called “Devadasi or Mahari (in Orissa)” who were devoted to Lord Jagannath.

The sculptures of dancers on the famous temples of Orissa (the Sun Temple in Konark and the Jagannath temple in Puri) show the evidence of this very ancient tradition.

The most interesting part of Gotipua is “Bandha Nrutya”, a dance with acrobatic feats and movements.

Begin young

To be able to perform these feats, the boys need to start learning the dance at five or six. The postures mostly refer to mythological scenes from the life of Krishna.

The dance troupe included Judhisthir Pradhan, Jagan Barik, Subhransu Sahu, Soumendra Balabanta Ray, Nitin Kumar Bhattacharya, Chitaranjan Sahu, Tubula Sandha and B.R. Dash.

Guru Jaya Krishna Nayak and Master Tapas Kumar Nayak lent vocal support.