An Odissi performance generally consists of four items:
1). Mangalacharan: A recital commences with Mangalacharan consisting of the Bhoomi Pranam, Ganesh Vandana, and Guru Pranam, meaning salutations to Mother Earth, Lord Ganesha, and to the Guru.
2). Batu Nritya: After completing these basic rituals begins the Batu Nritya. This is the most difficult part of an Odissi performance. The dancer begins with a series of sculpturesque poses representing musicians playing on various instruments like the Veena, Venu, Mardal or Mridang, Cymbals and so on. Beginning with a slow tempo, it is accelerated through a series of intricate charis, bhangis, and karanas.
This number is followed by an invocatory composition dedicated to a particular deity of the dancer's choice and is known as the ishta devata vandana. Here the dancer performs, through movements, the many facets of the deity.
3). Pallavi: After performing Batu nritya the dancer moves on to the Pallavi. In Pallavi, a melody is introduced. The dancer illustrates and elaborates the song through graceful movements of limbs, eyes, and eyebrows interspersed with stylized poses and movements (nritta). This part of the recital lays emphasis on hand gestures (hast abhinaya). Pallavi means "to blossom forth" and is similar to the Alarippu of Bharatnatyam.
4). Moksha: The concluding item in an Odissi recital is the Moksha in which the artist dances in joyous abandon and ends her recital by surrendering her whole being at the feet of Lord Jagannath. It is a dance of "liberation" (Moksha means spiritual liberation) through an abundance of joyous dance-movements.
Another possible concluding item is the Trikhanda Majura in which the dancer exits the stage taking a triple leave - leave from the gods, the audience, and the stage itself.
Rightly described as 'mobile sculpture', Odissi is the most lyrical, graceful, and sensuous dance-style, combining supple undulations of the torso with precise fotwork, and sculptural beauty of poses.
While Bharatnatyam is the stateliest, and Kuchipudi the most dramatic, Odissi is the most alluring and lyrical of the three styles.