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Arangetram: Navya Jain And Ritika Singh

Prnay Chopra

On July 16, 2017, friends and family of Navya Jain and Ritika Singh headed to the Chinmaya Mission in Andover to witness their long-awaited arangetram, featuring three styles of Indian classical dance – Kuchipudi, Bharatnatyam, and Odissi. Both Navya and Ritika have been dancing since they were children and are students of Smt. Neena Gulati at the esteemed Triveni School of Dance in Brookline, MA. From the beautiful décor to the wonderful dancing, it was clear that Navya, Ritika, and their families had put in a lot of effort to make this event truly memorable.

The dancers first paid tribute to Ganesh in their invocation item performed in Odissi style, Mangalacharan in Ragam Kedar. With bright smiles and their guru Neena aunty intently watching, the two girls danced a soulful invocation while describing how Ganesh removes all obstacles in life. Although Navya had an issue with her headpiece, she displayed her adaptability by continuing to dance unperturbed by the distraction. This was then followed by the pure dance piece Battu in Ragam Vasantha, choreographed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, in which the dancers demonstrate their joy and passion for dance by describing the various instruments that make up a classical music ensemble. Both Navya and Ritika maintained their energy throughout, pairing it with graceful eye movements and nuances that demonstrated their maturity and understanding of the choreography.

Next, Navya took the stage for her solo, a Pallavi in Ragam Saveri. Although the piece was technical and advanced, Navya demonstrated her command of rhythm as the piece increased in complexity over time. Ritika joined her for their centerpiece, an Odissi item which demonstrated the ten incarnations of Vishnu, known as Dasavataram. The girls demonstrated their bhakti rasa by enacting a shlokam which praises Vishnu for descending on this earth in different forms to rid the world of evil (Picture 1). The audience was captivated as both of the girls demonstrated each of the ten avatars. Particularly, Ritika’s depiction of Narasimha was striking, as she used all of her energy to portray the fierce man-lion (Picture 2).

After a short intermission, the audience was introducted to the fast-paced, vibrant, and light style of Kuchipudi when Ritika performed her solo, Saraswati Vandana, in Ragam Hindolam. Ritika successfully imbibed the style of Kuchipudi, while she praised Goddess Saraswati and asked for blessings for the remaining of their performance. Next, the girls enacted the classic Krishna-Yashoda story by dancing to the evergreen song, Krishna Nee Begane Baro in Ragam Yamankalyani. Navya excelled in playing the mother Yashoda who scolded the young Krishna, and Ritika was perfect in playing the mischevious, care-free Krishna (Picture 3). The item was a hit with the audience and made us laugh and smile with their depictions. The dancers then performed Shiv Shakti, a power-packed Kuchipudi item in Ragam Amritavarshini. This dance was power-packed with quick rhythms and strong poses. Finally, the girls portrayed the taming of the serpent Kaliya in a piece set to Ragam Gambheera Nattai, which finished with them executing intricate rhythmic patterns on the edge of a brass plate, the hallmark of Kuchipudi (Picture 4).

Throughout the performance, we heard from several friends and family of both Navya and Ritika, explaining to the audience how dance has become such a big part of both of their lives. Navya and Ritika’s friends from school praised how dance has helped the two girls mature and become an inspiration to those around them. The program ended with a tribute to their guru and other mentors. The two girls choreographed an item describing how Neena Aunty started dancing as a child, balanced her family life with dance, and created an institution to spread the beauty of Indian culture. The story continued as they described how the two girls met in dance class and became friends through their training. One of their teachers and mentors, Prnay Chopra, joined them on stage to assist with the demonstration, which warmed the hearts of everyone (Picture 5). The girls ended their program by thanking all of those who have supported them along their journey.

Although an arangetram marks the graduation of a dance student, it does not mean the end of their training. Unlike many who stop dancing after their arangetram, the two girls are committed to spending the rest of their summer in intensive workshops and private lessons to further their understanding of the theory, technicality, spirituality, and nuance of their dance forms, demonstrating their passion, dedication, and maturity. The girls are excited for the opportunity to take their dance to the next level. It is evident that the girls’ love for dance was instilled by their many teachers and their guru, Neena Aunty.

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