The iconic dancer T. Balasaraswati said of the Bharatanatyam repertoire:
"The Bharatanatyam recital is structured like a great temple: we enter through the gopuram (outer hall) of alarippu, cross the ardhamandapam (half-way hall) of jatiswaram, then the mandapa (great hall) of sabdam, and enter the holy precinct of the deity in the varnam. This is the place, the space, which gives the dancer expansive scope to revel in the rhythm, moods and music of the dance. The varnam is the continuum which gives ever-expanding room to the dancer to delight in her self-fulfilment, by providing the fullest scope to her own creativity as well as to the tradition of the art.
The padams now follow. In dancing to the padams, one experiences the containment, cool and quiet, of entering the sanctum from its external precinct. The expanse and brilliance of the outer corridors disappear in the dark inner sanctum; and the rhythmic virtuosities of the varnam yield to the soul-stirring music and abhinaya of the padam. Dancing to the padam is akin to the juncture when the cascading lights of worship are withdrawn and the drum beats die down to the simple and solemn chanting of sacred verses in the closeness of God. Then, the tillana breaks into movement like the final burning of camphor accompanied by a measure of din and bustle. In conclusion, the devotee takes to his heart the god he has so far glorified outside; and the dancer completes the traditional order by dancing to a simple devotional verse."
In a full-length performance, the Odissi repertoire is arranged similarly. The introductory invocation is a mental and physical starting point for the dancer, allowing her to enter and inhabit the dance. The next piece is either sthayee or pallavi, both ecstatic pure dance pieces that push the dancer to her limits in finding the most perfect expression of form. The abhinaya that follows is most often based on Oriya poetry or Sanskrit ashtapadis, though poetry in other languages is also commonplace. Towards the end of a recital, there is space for yet another kind of invocation in the stutis, compositions that combine nritta (pure dance) and abhinaya to describe a deity or narrate a series of episodes from the life of a mythological figure. An Odissi recital usually ends with moksha. Movements and poses merge here to create ever-changing patterns and designs in space and time. Moksha symbolises the oneness of the dancer and the dance.
A curated, expansive journey through the Odissi repertoire from the Odissi archive on Pad.ma.
Sanjukta Panigrahi performs a mangalacharan dedicated to Devi. The composition is sung by Raghunath Panigrahi, while Kelucharan Mohapatra plays the mardala.
In another instance, Durga Charan Ranbir uses the mangalacharan to invoke Kali. Representing the Deba Prasad Das gharana of Odissi, Ranbir performed this piece at the opening of the 2003 International Odissi Festival in Washington DC.
Douglas Ridings performs a mangalacharan that combines yoga asanas with the opening verse of Pankaj Charan Das' Panchakanya, describing the magnificence of Shiva.
A mangalacharan usually incorporates the following elements - bhumi pranam, or a salutation to the earth, an homage to Jagannath, often considered the presiding deity of Odissi, a sloka describing and/or simultaneously eulogising a mythological figure and the sabha pranam, where the dancer acknowledges the audience, finally offering her salutations to the divine realm, the guru and the audience in the trikhandi pranam. Technically, the sloka in the mangalacharan could be in praise of a mythic or non-mythic figure, but the most popular and prevalent choreographies often focus on a deity.
Rasmi Raj performs manikyaveena, a composition in praise of Saraswati, the goddess of learning. The verses composed by Kalidasa extol her beauty and intelligence. https://pad.ma/AWL/player
Excerpt from brajaku Kumkum Mohanty
Amanda Hanuman Vatika
Bani Ray Kalyan Pallavi 2003
Kelucharan Mohapatra - Kuru yadunandana 2003
Rajika Puri Story of Sati
Thali Dance Shyamali Hauth
Sharmila Biswas Shiva Parvati Shabda 2003
Shiva Parvati 2006