Task 4: Learning a short Odissi sequence

Dance (Ages 11-14)
Task 4: Learning a short Odissi sequence
Key Messages: 
  • It takes a long time to master Odissi but we can get a taste by learning a short sequence and its meaning.
  • Introduce students to the technical and expressive skills of Odissi
  • Students perform a short Odissi sequence in class to their own level
  • Students understand the meaning of the dance and its movements


Discuss the key message of the task.

Show MV Dance Resource 4.1 Odissi learned sequence. (You may want to get reactions from the group: What do they notice? How easy / difficult does it look?) You may want to show it more than once.

Ask if the students remember one of the important functions of Odissi. (It is a vocabulary of movements that are used to tell a story.) Ask the students to watch the video again and see if they can interpret what is being communicated here. After watching, feed back interpretations to the group without giving the actual explanation. Ask them to let you know when they have realised the meaning as you progress through the following activity. (The dance is a description of a character’s appearance and where he lives.)


The three 15 second sections are presented as continuous sequences in the breakdown videos, and with teaching guidance in the teaching videos. We suggest you show the breakdown video a couple of times to familiarise the students with the whole 15 second segment and then use the teaching video to learn the movements. You can replay sections as much as necessary to learn the sequence.

You do not need to be at the front of the class as the demonstration is given by the dancer, which leaves you free to play and replay the necessary sections of the videos. Once the group is becoming familiar with the sequence, try practising it without the music, and along with the 45 second MV Dance Resource 4.1 Odissi learned sequence (so that you have the music).

The teacher in the video presents the movements by introducing first the foot positions, then the torso and last the hand gestures for each movement of the sequence.

You can refer back to the breakdown videos of the 15 second sequences to put the movements together.

You can refer back to the whole learned sequence video to remember how the section fits into the 45 second sequence.

Depending on the level of your group and the time available, you can choose how many 15 second sections to practise.

This session is intended to give the students an opportunity to explore a new dance form rather than perfecting the sequence. If time permits, give them the opportunity to improve their performance.

Did the group articulate that the sequence's narrative is a description of a character? If not, make it explicit now:

The narrative of the dance, after adopting the starting position, describes a character’s lips, smile, heart, walk and the town where he lives. Finally he is shown playing the flute.


Students perform the sequence they have learned (up to 45 seconds) to the rest of the class. This is a good opportunity for students to give feedback to each other.


Students research different functions of dance.

One of Odissi’s functions is to tell stories, which was especially useful when most people didn’t read or write. Does Odissi fulfill any other functions?

Make a list of some of the different functions that dance can fulfill (eg for socialising, for uniting a group, entertainment, artistic expression, physical spontaneity etc). List some dance styles that fulfill those functions.

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