Never knew they were boys and they could dance so gracefully, commented a thoroughly awe-struck Shobana of class VIII, as she filed out of her school auditorium after enjoying the Gotipua dance performance.
The Interactors of Lakshmi School had recently organised the show in their school in association with Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry Chapter of the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth (SPIC MACAY), a voluntary youth movement that promotes our cultural heritage of music, dance, yoga and crafts. The Interact Club of Lakshmi School was sponsored by Rotary Club of Madurai Midtown, RI District 3000.
Gotipua is a traditional folk dance form of Odisha that originated in the 16th century, performed in praise of Lord Jagannath. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it is performed by young boys dressed like girls.
Long ago, temples in Orissa had female dancers called Maharis who were devotees of Lord Jagannath. When the Mahari dance form started declining, male dancers continued the tradition by dressing up as women. Although Gotipua follows the Odissi style, the technique, costumes and presentation are different from that of the Mahari dance.
A deafening cheer filled up the school auditorium when the eight dancers moved in harmony with graceful steps and flawless acrobatics. Everyone was surprised when they came to know that all the dancers were actually boys dressed up as girls.