Both these dance forms cherished the Vaishnava cult and were influenced by Vaishnavism, though the Saivaism also influenced the dance forms to a considerable extent. Both these dance forms derived the names from the place they originated.
Odissi dance poses resemble the temple sculptural poses, Odissi derived its sources for dance poses, from the temple sculptures. The Odissi dance maintains the thiripanga position. This means the three anga positions of the body. This is the unique feature of the classical Odissi dance. Even the Nirtha in Odissi dance is divided into three main categories.
Odissi is another classical dance form that originated in the Orissa state and like all other classical dance forms, it was influenced by Hindu philosophy. Like Bharatha Natyam, devadasis female temple dancers played an important role initially in the development of this art form. The female dancers are called Maharis and the male dancers were called Gothipuas. Odissi derived the sources of Odissi dance poses from the temple sculptures. That’s why Odissi dance poses resemble the temple sculptural poses. The unique feature of Odissi is that it maintains the thiripanga position. This means the three-anga positions of the body.
One is Battu Nirtha, which includes pure poses, depicting holding a variety of musical instruments. Variety of musical instruments means the string instruments, (veena) leather instruments (drum), metal instruments (cymbals), and the wind instruments (flute). Another important category is Pallavi. It means that within a prescribed time limit, (thala) the dancer dances for the swaras or musical notes of the chosen ragas, the pure Nirtha dance.
Another category of Nirtha is Moksha Artha. Moksha Artha is dance before the dance concludes. In Moksha, the dancer dances numerous sequences of pure dance units. Like all other classical dance forms, the Nirtha and Nirthya are interwoven in the dance. The meaning of the songs is interpreted through graceful movements, subtle expressions, abinayas, bavas, and rasas. More importance is given to the moods of the song than the meaning of the song.
The main source for Nirthya is taken from Geetha Govindam songs of Jayadeva of the 12th century. Even the same songs are used by Bharatha Natyam for Astapathi, which contains eight saranams. In Odissi, these Sanskrit compositions provide greater opportunity for the Odissi dancer to interweave with sculptural poses in the dance. Besides Jayadeva’s compositions, various Oriya Poets’ compositions are adopted in Odissi dance forms.
In Odissi, the traditional repertoire begins with Bhaumi Pranam. This is followed by a dedicated dance on Lord Ganesha. Beautiful graceful items are often seen in this dance form. Among them is Swara Pallavi melodious and touching items of Banamurali Das and Upendra Bhanja are used for it. Beautiful ragas are used in Pallavi such as Sangarabaranam, and Kambothi. Another important item found in Odissi is Geetha Govintam of Jega Deva adopted for Thasa-Avatharam. The final item of Odissi is called Moksha Nirtya.
Odissi uses numerous hand mudras or hastas. Moreover, these hand mudras are taken largely from Abinaya Dharpana. It also takes from Abinaya Chandrika. Like Bharatha Natyam and Kathakali, Odissi also uses the maximum amount of hand hastas. Although the pattern of costumes and ornaments resemble the costumes of Bharatha Natyam, the ornaments used in Odissi are plain and silver-coated without stone studded ones.