Arangetram: Shweta And Shruti Kumar
Recently we had our Arangetram. Over the last 7 years, learning Bharat Natyam has taught us what is required to be a good dancer besides hard work and dedication – Passion. From our view, there is no way someone can prepare for an Arangetram with out loving the form of art.
Seven years ago, it was our mom who got us started to take Bharatanatyam classes. We took about a year to learn all the basic steps and mudhras, hand gestures. We had to master the concept of doing aramandi (sitting), having the beat, and making sure our hands were perfectly parallel to the ground. After completing a dance and making sure it was perfect, we would start the next item. Learning new dances was the most fun part while learning Bharatanatyam.
While finishing more and more dances, both our mom and our guru, Veena aunty, thought we were ready to have an Arangetram. Hearing about this idea sounded fun, but we didn’t know that having an Arangetram required a lot of commitment, hard work, and dedication. We started preparing for our Arangetram one year before, and ever since we gave all our efforts in, so our big and special day would become a success. All items we learned from our guru were pretty challenging. She believed in perfection.
As part of Bharatanatyam experience, we learned two new items from a teacher from Kalakshetra, Chennai during our vacation to India in February 2007. We loved the experience to learn Bharatanatyam in India. We learned one padham, a fun piece, Natanam Adinaar. This dance was very difficult and required a lot of strength. We also learned Kurathi, which is a traditional Tamil folk dance. We enjoyed the Kurathi dance because it was on the folk side, but had some Bharatanatyam in it. Learning the dances was one big part of the Arangetram process, but we also had to go shopping in India for the jewelry and costumes, which we did on our trip in 2007. Getting our pictures taken was another big deal. A few months before our Arangetram, we had to get a photo shoot. These pictures were used to make our brochures and cards, which takes a lot of hard work.
Months went by faster and faster, and we realized that our Arangetram was coming up close. Before we knew it, it was March 19, 2008, a month before our Arangetram. From that day on, we needed to have a 100% commitment. We practiced all eleven dances every single class. My mom even made us listen to our pieces and sing along with them in the car rides. This was to help us understand the meaning of the items more. We also needed to have expressions, which was very important. My dance teacher told us that having expressions will make us more connected with the audience. So we continued to work on our expressions.
There was still another big part to the Arangetram, which was rehearsing with the musicians a week before the Arangetram. We had a Veena player (DR. Durga Krishnan), a violin player (Shree Surya Sundarajan), a mridungam player (Shree Gaurishankar), the singer (Smt. Geeta Murali), and our guru (Smt. Veena Teli) doing the nattuvangam. Since there was a live orchestra playing the music, everything had to be perfect; steps and rhythm. The musicians we had were professionals in the true sense and it was inspirational and motivational to be working with them. These practices usually lasted about three to four hours.
The day before our Arangetram was the stage rehearsal. We had to take a lot of rest because we were going to do the whole program. Starting on time at Ashland High School, where we had our Arangetram, we did the whole program, but with many interruptions along the way. After the first item, Pushpanjali, we were extremely tired, and we didn’t know how we were going to do it the next day. We still did all the dances, but we were exhausted.
The next day, April 19, 2008, we woke up saying this is the biggest day of our lives. Time went by fast due to resting and spending time with all our relatives, but then the next thing we knew, we were getting ready in the green room. We took about an hour and a half to put on all our make up and costumes. Then all of sudden, we hear our dad giving the introduction speech, and we knew it was time to start. We have to say, we thought the Arangetram would go by slow, but it was speeding fast. With all the eleven dances we did we changed three times and had one intermission. Doing our last dance, mangalam, it then hit us that we just had our Arangetram and it was over. Speeches were spoken by our teacher, parents, uncle, and of course us. Then it was the reception and loads of pictures were taken.
Having our Arangetram was definitely a big impact we had on our life. We definitely overcame stage fright and we developed a strong stamina, facial expressions, and passion for the dance. For those out there about to have their Arangetram, all we have to say is enjoy every moment because everything goes by fast!
- Shweta & Shruti Kumar, 8th Grade students, Sharon Hiagh School
It was a pleasure teaching Shweta and Shruti Bharat Natyam for 7 years. This was my first time teaching twin sisters and the complete experience was a delight. Shweta-Shruti are 2nd generation dancers in their family – their mother and aunt have performed their Arangetram in their teens. This gave a very different insight since I had suggestions from the family for specific items. It was all a joint effort.
I truly believe that dance is just a means to share views between generations and teach children how to adhere to traditions and respect our sastras. Children growing up away from India really need to understand the historical importance and significance of traditions so that they can understand the value of our classical arts. In my humble way I strive to administer, subtly, the great virtues of love, self-discipline, compassion and most importantly humility.
The professional level of the musicians has amazed and impressed me. I would like to thank all those who helped make this Arangetram a success.
It my heartfelt request to all young dancers who have completed their Arangetram, to please consider this achievement as just the first step in their dance education. Please continue, in your own ways, to explore the possibilities since they are endless.
- Veena Teli, Tarangini Creations School of Dance
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