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Nikita Patel Raises More Than $5100 For AIF At Her Arangetram

Nikita Patel

After a year of rigorous practices, planning, and late nights, I can finally say that I have completed my Nritya Nipuna, on September 19th, 2015 at Littleton High School in front of an audience of about 200 people.

A Nritya Nipuna is a debut dance recital performed by a dancer who has mastered the art of classical dance. The Shishya (Student) ascends the stage on this auspicious day to debut her solo performance. The Shishya reaches this milestone with dedication, determination and devotion through many years of training from her Guru (teacher). With the blessings from Lord Nataraj (Lord of Dance), my Guru, and the audience, I completed my Nritya Nipuna in the dance styles of Bharatanatyam, Manipuri, and Folk Dance.

Even though dancing has become a major part of my life in the last ten plus years, I still remember the few times that I would reluctantly go to dance class, when I was young. However, as I grew as a person, my love and passion for dance grew equally. Today, I can say without hesitation that I will never stop dancing, as dancing has taught me to express myself through this unique art form.

I would not be the dancer I am today without my Guru, Smt. Jasmine Shah of Aangikam Dance Academy. As a teacher, “Jasmine Aunty” is warm and caring. Her students are fortunate to experience her enthusiastic and patient teaching of classical dance techniques with a touch of innovation and contemporary ideas. With her guidance, Jasmine Aunty has truly made this Nritya Nipuna a challenging and rewarding experience for me. I would have never reached this milestone without Jasmine Aunty, she taught me how to express from within, portray elegance through emotion, and learn each step to excellence and perfection.

On the day of my Nritya Nipuna I woke up not being able to put words to my emotions. I was both excited and nervous to dance for three hours all by myself. Before I knew it, I was taking my cue and entering the stage, feeling my heart pound ever so loudly.

My performances ranged from the classical Bharatnatyam with its elaborate and aesthetic techniques to the delicate, graceful and mesmerizing Manipuri, to the vibrant and charming folk dance.  Since my Nritya Nipuna was a very important milestone in my life, I put in an extra effort to make this evening one to remember. To do this, I incorporated a few surprises into the show. My first surprise was a shadow dance with my younger sister that became an instant hit with the audience. My second surprise was for my dad for whom I performed one of his favorite semi-classical fusion song as a grand finale to the show. My final surprise was a portrait of my Guru which I spent months working on to give to her as a symbol of my respect, gratitude and appreciation for her.

One significant highlight of the whole process of my Nritya Nipuna was my introduction to the American India Foundation. The American India Foundation (AIF) is a non-profit that is committed to transform the lives of India's neediest people. My parents always reminded my sister and I about how fortunate we are to have the kind of educational opportunities and life styles in America. They told us stories about their home country, India, where many underprivileged children lacked the basic necessities that we take for granted.  Thus, I became very interested in AIF and their Learning and Migration Program, also known as LAMP. I learned that every year, nearly 72 million people migrate from their villages to find better work, and because of this, their children lose out on an education. I was really inspired that LAMP steps into these situations and provides the children of migrant workers with an education and a better shot at a brighter future. So, I decided to make a special request of all my guests....instead of bringing me gifts to this event, they should donate to LAMP! I ran a short campaign by broadcasting a video message requesting to donate, to all invited guests. I received such positive and generous feedback from all my guests, as people were inspired by my video and I ended up raising about $5,200 dollars for LAMP, which will provide over 100 children an education for one whole year! I truly appreciate the overwhelming support and generous donations from all our friends and family.

Working with the American India Foundation, has not only inspired me to give back to the community, but I have also found a new community of people who want to make a change in the world like I do. I strongly look forward to working with AIF as a Youth Ambassador for the New England Chapter!

It is said that a Nritya Nipuna is a graduation of dance, an end to years of learning and practicing. However, my Nritya Nipuna is not just the “end”; it is the beginning of a new chapter in my life.

Get to Know Nikita!

Nikita Patel is currently a junior at Mansfield High School. As a high honors student, Nikita is seen as a hardworking and courteous student and she enjoys accepting new challenges. Nikita’s other interests include painting, playing the violin, and volunteering at local hospitals. As an artist, Nikita has won a Gold Key Award from Boston Globe Scholastic Award for Art & Writing for a watercolor piece. Nikita continues on with her hobby in painting with the medium of oil paints. Nikita has played in her school orchestra for 5 years, and she will always cherish the close bonds she made with her friends in Orchestra class. Lastly, as Nikita is planning to develop a career in the healthcare field, she enjoys spending her free time at local pediatric centers.

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“Photos by Subroto Mukherjee”

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