ODISSI IN MEDIEVAL ERA
The composition of the poetic texts by 8th century Shankaracharya and particularly of divine love inspired Gitagovinda by 12th century Jayadeva influenced the focus and growth of modern Odissi.
Odissi was performed in the temples by the dancers called Maharis, who played out these spiritual poems and underlying religious plays, after training and perfecting their art of dance starting from an early age, and who were revered as auspicious to religious services. Actual sculptures that have survived into the modern era and panel reliefs in Odia temples, dated to be from the 10th to 14th century, show Odissi dance. This is evidenced in Jagannath temple in Puri, as well as other temples of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Vedic deities such as Surya (Sun) in Odisha. There are several sculptures of dancers and musicians in Konark Sun Temple and Brahmeswara Temple in Bhubaneswar.
Over the centuries three schools of Odissi dance developed: Mahari, Nartaki, and Gotipua.
The Mahari tradition is the devadasi tradition; this is the use of women who are attached to deities in the temple. The Nartaki tradition is the school of Odissi dance which developed in the royal courts. Gotipua is a style characterised by the use of young boys dressed up in female clothing to perform female roles. Traditional Odissi exists in two primary styles, the first perfected by women and focussed on solemn, the second perfected by boys dressed as girls which diversified to include athletic and acrobatic moves, and were performed from festive occasions in temples to general folksy entertainment.