Chhau dance by Tarapad Rajak on 7th Oct 2011
With origins shrouded in mystery, the Chhau dancer communicates inner emotions and themes through cadences of body flexions, movements and kinetic suggestions. The word Chhau is interpreted differently by scholars. Some say the word 'Chhau' comes from the Sanskrit root 'Chhaya' meaning shade. 'Disguise' is another common interpretation due to the extensive use of masks in this dance form. The martial movements of Chhau have led to another interpretation of the word as meaning 'to attack stealthily' or 'to hunt'.
Three styles of Chhau exist, originating from the three different regions of Seraikela (Bihar), Purulia (West Bengal), and Mayurbhanj (Orissa). Martial movements, strong rhythmic statements and dynamic use of space are characteristic of Chhau. The dance is an excellent culmination of enormous vitality and virility. As it is difficult to dance for long with a mask, the dance does not last more than 7-10 minutes.