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Arangetram - Maithreyi Shankar

Maithreyi Shankar
06/25/2008

Having performed my Arangetram on June 8th, I am stunned that it is over and now I can reflect on my performance and learn even more in the future. I never danced so much before my Arangetram preparation, and I learned how to keep my energy up as the classes became more intense. I learned to enjoy dance more and more, and a performance that started as a tribute to my mother ended up being a major achievement for me.

      In September, my mother initially brought up the idea of me performing an Arangetram—partially because she had almost performed one when she was younger, but never had the opportunity and partially because she believed in me more than I believed in myself. I was really skeptical of the idea; I did not think I had the stamina or potential to perform an Arangetram at all, and I was just getting used to the idea of dance classes again. But when my mother insisted, I decided I would perform as a tribute to my mother. Little did I know that I would take up dance as something I really loved to do and have fun doing. Through some intense classes and discussion, I realized that I was no longer doing my Arangetram just to fulfill my mother’s unrequited wishes, but to help my own character and learn to love something that I had always known, but never in such a close way. Dance was like an old friend that had moved away until I started my Arangetram practice—but now it has moved next door and we’re as close as can be.

       I had no idea that I would work so hard. During practice I naïvely thought the steps could just be handed to me and I would execute them perfectly. I was dazed. When I performed one of my first pieces in September, I realized that I was scared of performing for crowds and I would have to work harder to get results I would be proud of. I worked for hours with my mother and teacher just to improve by fractions. My knees started to get tired, my stamina was stuck in one spot, and I hated hearing my own excuses for why I was not doing well.

      I started practicing for three hours a day, and focusing on details of every song before we had even choreographed the varnam, or central piece. And I became more confident, and I saw definite changes in my attitude towards dance and towards those helping me. I was excited for class, and excited for practice. I was up for everything. Once I gave a performance at Sri Lakshmi Temple, it became apparent that my fears of crowds had gone, and that my dancing had improved leaps and bounds from earlier in the year.

      In the last weeks before the big day, the nerves started setting in. I could not believe that all the time had flown by. I was scared that I would perform badly, and scared that I would not live up to my own expectations as well as my family’s expectations. I was worried, and my dancing showed my worries . Once I realized that my fears were irrational, that my dancing improved so much, and that I had changed for the better as a person with my approach, I shook my own fears. I enjoyed dance again.

      My dress rehearsal was just a disaster. I forgot pretty much every step in my repertoire. I lost any rhythm I had because the stage just dazzled me. Dancing on the stage alone for such a large performance was such a different experience than dancing during practice or with others. Luckily, the rehearsal was the day before so I had gotten over those fears before the Sunday of my performance.

      On the morning of June 8th, I decided to just enjoy myself on stage. I got ready at Dimple Auntie’s house with all my makeup, hair, costume, and jewelry ready. Then I hurried over to Francis Wyman School just before 3pm to finally perform. I was so excited, and the excitement kept a smile on my face. The energy of the crowd just emanated and helped me perform so well. I loved every moment on that stage. I also liked hearing my brother, mother, and father speak to welcome everyone because it comforted me to know that they were there for me. As Varnam ended with my pose, I felt accomplished—but I knew it was not over yet; I had a whole second half to go! I had to keep my energy up, and I loved dancing in that moment. And as my Mangalam ended, I could not believe what I had achieved through dance. I changed my attitude and my work ethic. Through my Arangetram practice and my new attitude, I even improved my grades in school. I won an award in February for the Boston Regional Brain Bee, and I studied continuously before it, applying my dance work ethic to other arenas.

      None of this would be possible without the support of my Guru, Ranjani Auntie. She believed in me and my dancing—even when I did not think I could do it. Her criticisms always helped my dance and I learned so much beyond dance from her. I learned how to look to the positives to fix the negatives and how to smile beyond any pain. She taught me great life lessons about time management and attitude. I have changed so much because she taught me, and I cannot imagine being a student of anyone else.

    During my performance, the beautiful music propelled me to dance better and smile more. The music exhilarated me and breathed new life to the songs that I had heard over five billion times during practice. Without the support of the musicians, the program would not have been nearly as memorable. Geetha Murali’s beautiful voice compelled me to dance more even when I was tired. Gaurish Chandrasekar’s mridangam playing kept me on point with my steps—and also helped my motivation to dance. Surya Sundarajan’s exquisite violin music was so beautiful, I did not want to stop dancing. And Parthaji’s flute playing, all the way from North Carolina, brought Krishna to life in the second half of my program.

    My family was a source of never-ending support. We still went out for dinner every month, went to the mall for walks, kayaked, and hiked. My family kept me busy and they were there when practice was not going the way I planned or just needed a day off. My brother always encouraged me—watching me practice and telling me to smile when I looked stress while dancing. My dad was always supportive even as a silent observer. When he felt that I was practicing too much, he would make me rest even though I did not want to. And when I would practice, he would be working and humming the song in the background. My mother was there with me every step and every class. She dealt harsh critiques, but just so that I could improve my dancing. She worked so hard to arrange every last thing so that I would not have to worry about the preparations and could dance freely. My mother’s reasons for wanting me to perform an Arangetram have very little to do with dance as an artform and have everything to do with morals and character. She thought that dance could help me improve my work ethic and my attitude towards life—and it has immensely. I’m grateful that she initiated this process because without that push in the right direction, I would not have ever given such a performance.

      My family abroad has been really supportive as well. My aunt who had an Arangetram when she was younger offered really great tips and advice about performing.  My cousins who look up to me as the oldest girl have been really supportive as well. And my grandparents are my biggest fans. They bought me a dance dress and a whole set of jewelry. I talked to them often about my practice, and I cannot wait to show the video of my performance when I see them in July. Another great support I recieved from Smt. Kausalaya Srinivasan whose dance camp I had attended as a child. She was so kind as to send me a wonderful set of costumes that quite transformed my looks.

    The whole Saigal family was helpful and supportive as well. They were always encouraging and motivating. Amrita helped with the hair and makeup, and offered her critique and advice for my dancing during the dress rehearsal and practices. And Arun did a great job emceeing enthusiastically. He brought great energy to the stage before every number.
   
     The support of the community was unbelievable as well. Our lack of close family in the area made decorating and making arrangements for food more complicated than the process usually is, but luckily the Shah and Soni familes came to the rescue! Rita Auntie helped arrange for the BAPS catering –which was delicious, and Neha and Nidhi helped decorate the hall before the dress rehearsal, and Reshma Auntie helped my mother with the planning while Karishma helped arrange the flowers in the lobby in front of the auditorium.

      Now I can say I love dance, I would not be telling a lie, or trying to force a passion for something. I truly do love dancing now—after spending so much time with it. And I fully intend to continue pursuing dance along with my education because of its cultural value and now its personal value to me.



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19.ngzNsaOqLAjFgqQM May 1, 2012Adelphia 
20.BblxBIKLBlIck April 28, 2012Tike 
21.jDcXTBzveShbCJ April 8, 2012Mahalia 
22.iIWpoPnsVOgZhrDVgEY April 7, 2012Minerva 
23.GDNKjklOsMro April 6, 2012Vianca 
24.JWuJJNVUqUMpq April 4, 2012Matee 
25.vHuuhPzAfWxetnIUM April 3, 2012Makendra 
26.NhDsbYrNdwAkF April 2, 2012wemwpxe 
27.ibgHNmNBsbinciev April 2, 2012Prabhat 
28.Cheers July 20, 2008Mama and mami 
29.Congratulations!!!! July 14, 2008 
30.congratulations!! July 14, 2008Nidhi 
31.gifts July 12, 2008ss 
32.Congratulations Maithreyi July 12, 2008AM I A HINDU? 
33.Good Job Maithreye July 11, 2008kss 
34.wooo!!! July 11, 2008kcd 

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