The Changu is the famous folk dance from the Eastern state of Orissa or now Odisha, of India. This dance is performed by almost all the regional tribal communities of Orissa that form almost one-fourth of the total population of the state. Even though the Changu dance is part of everyday life for all of the tribes, it is considered closer to the Bhuyan tribe of Orissa.

The Changu dance gets its name from the Changu drum which is the primary and mandatory musical accompaniment for the dances. The dance is performed only by the unmarried men and women of the village in groups that have distinct roles in the Changu performances. The dance is performed at the centre courtyard of the village, the women dance slowly while the men only provide the accompanying music and sometimes perform acrobatic feats.

Dance Form

The Changu dance separates the male and female performers by assigning them distinct and unalterable roles. The men are the musicians and singers and the women only dance, whose movements are followed by the men. The men are lead by the young man playing the changu and play one or two other types of drums and sing appropriate folk songs. The young ladies on the other hand are dressed in unusually long saris that only leave their hands and feet visible. The women dance holding each other’s hands and with a stance between standing and sitting. In the Changu dance, young girls approach the boys and in response the boys slowly retreat, and then the women retreat and again the men follow their movement, and perform leaps and acrobatics from time to time. All the movements in the change dance are synchronized with the beats and the singing rhythms.

Musical Instruments

Only a few instruments are used in the Changu dances and that are stated as the following:

Changu: The changu is a basic one sided drum that strikingly resembles a tambourine, but instead it is much larger in shape.

Dhol: It is another percussion instrument that is native to and very common in India.


The Changu dance is very important to the tribal life style in Orissa. It forms the central event in any occasion for celebrations and festivities, like harvests and marriages. The Changu dance also serves as a socially acceptable platform for the meeting of eligible bachelors in the village, since the dancers have to be strictly unmarried.


Variations exist only as different dialects of the Changu dance due to the many tribes and communities performing it traditionally.

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