The repertoire of Odissi like other classical dance forms also consists of the elements of Nritta and Abhinaya and Tăndava and Lăsya.
The present format of the repertoire may not have been present in the earlier times, but have been reconstructed by the pioneers of the revival of this art form.
The beginning of an Odissi/Orissi dance recital is with the Bhumipranama , an obeisance to the chosen deity. It is also known as Mangalacharan. It is in praise of either Lord Ganesha ( The Vighnaraja), Lord Jagannatha or Adishakti. A line of poetry is set to music and it is performed with a combination of pure dance steps and mime , expressing the meaning through the gestures. It is said that the performance of this item ensures success of the recital.
Bhumipranama is followed by a pure dance item called Batu mentioned in the Abhinaya Chandrika . It is a difficult item as it introduces the full gamut of nritta techinique. Beginning with a Chauka position in a slow temp, it gradully moves to intricate movements. That is from Charis to Bhangis to Khandis or Arasas . The Batu Nritya weaves a kinetic pattern to a given metricl cycle.
Ishta Devata Vandana
Batu Nritya is followed by an invocatory piece dedicted to a deity chosen by the dancer herself called as the Ishata Devata Vandana. The dancer usually choses a shloka (verse) from Sanskrit or Oriya Poetry. It is a nritya piece consisting of short pure dance steps as well as the abhinaya on the verse.
In Swara Pallavi, for the first time, a melody is introduced which the dancer illustrates through her movements. The dancer executes movements that follow the sound patterns of the swaras in the raga. Pallavi literally means a new leaf. It is a pure dance item , that is , a nritta piece with an emphasis on hand gesturs. When it is executed in a very slow tempo, then it is called the illustration of the alăp, but it may also be executed in a medium or faster tempo.
Gitabhinaya is also known as Sa-abhinaya nritta. These are abhinaya pieces where in the songs are generally well known compositions of poets like Jayadeva, Upendrabhajadev or Banmali Das. The dancer attempts to convey the Sthãyibhãva of the song by interpreting the meaning of the words of the song in a variety of ways. She uses the combined languge of hand gestures, facial expressions and body movements to communicate the meaning and the bhãva of the lyrics. Like the Padams in BharatNatyam, she expresses them through SanchÞribhãvas.
Ashtapadis of Gita Govinda are an essential part of an Odissi recital. Various types of NãYIKãs ( heroines) cn be found in this classic collection of poetry. And it is a true test of the dancer’s competence in presenting the various shades present in the lyrics of the padas.
Moksha or Tarajan
An Odissi recital ends with a Tarajan or a Moksha.
Tarajan is a pure dance number , a parallel to Tillana in BharatNatyam. The bols are sung and into them many intricte rhythmic patterns in pure nritta are woven.
Moksha or Moksha Nritya also corresponds to Tillana and litterally means salvation, liberation, release or deliverance. Here the dance and the dancer become one ,culminating into an all inclusive awareness, a fathomless deep consiousness where all thoughts are dissolved and fused into perfect harmony and equilibrium. It consists of pure dance as well as an abhinaya section which generally comprises compositions of Hindi poets like Tulsidas and others.