Chhau Dance
Project info

The Chhau Dance is a popular form of tribal dance in India. This dance form is predominantly seen in the states of Odissa, West Bengal and Jharkhand. The Chhau Dance originated in the Purulia district in state West Bengal, India. Chhau dance is evidently a war dance. This form of dance is a means to portray stories to the audience. The dancers wear elaborate masks and head gears associated with battle and simply displays stylized vigorous movements and leap with sword and shield in their hands during performance. The dance is accompanied with loud beats and triumphs and instruments like drum, marui etc. The story itself revolves around great epics of Indian Mythology – Ramayana, Mahabharata etc. Chhau Dance is usually performed during village festivals at mid night. The dancers also perform at other events like wedding etc. Generally this dance is performed in the middle of the ground in rural areas, with audience sitting or standing in a circle or semi-circle around them to watch. The costume plays a vital role in this performance as the Chhau Dance is known for its distinctive set and costumes. The dancers wear brightly colored outfits with large number of costume Jewellery. The masks worn during this performance and the hand gears are of vital importance as they are used to convey emotions and the nature of the character. Masks are generally large in size, and extremely heavy. Paper, mud, clay are used to make chhau mask are painted in pastel shades to give a frank simple and bold look. The effectiveness, originality and beauty of chhau dance depend on the chhau mask. Each mask represents a character from mythological epic and gives completeness to the chau dancer. For monsters and animals, suits are made to depict an animal or monster and appropriate masks are worn to resemble their faces. For instance, while depicting a lion, a dancer will don a lion suit along with a lion mask. Over the years, it remains acceptable and is still very popular and entertaining among rural people in few provinces in India.