About Us Contact Us Help




Arangetram: Vaishnavi Murthy

Anand Rajaram

Arangetram of Kum. Vaishnavi Murthy
July 23, 2022
Littleton High School, MA

Anand Rajaram

Bharatanatyam is one of the most popular classical dance forms of India that traces its origins back to Natyashastra, an ancient treatise on theater estimated to be written over 2000 years ago.  The word is seen to connote a dance that harmoniously expresses bhava (feelings, emotions), raga (melody) and tala (rhythm). Banned by the British in 1910 in colonial India, Bharatanatyam is now a thriving art form inside and outside India and is an especially popular way for the Indian diaspora to stay connected with its homeland. 


An arangetram, which translates to "ascending the stage", is a solo debut dance performance that marks the culmination of years of intense practice, hard work, and a dedication to the art of Bharatanatyam. It signifies the completion of initial formal training, and the performance showcases the dancer's repertoire and skills learned from the Guru. 


The stage was set on Saturday, July 23 at Littleton High School. Vaishnavi Murthy, student of Sarasa Natya Academy, delivered an exhilarating performance at her Arangetram on that day. This was also the first arangetram by a student of Sarasa Natya Academy. The academy, founded in 2012 by Smt. Preethi Ramesh, trains nearly 70 students, and is named after Smt. Preethi's guru Kalaimamani Smt. K.J. Sarasa, a precious torchbearer of the famed Vazhuvoor bani (tradition) of Bharatanatyam, and the first female nattuvanar (director). 


Smt. Preethi, a talented and dedicated artiste with more than 30 years in the

field experience, started dancing into the hearts of people from the tender age of 3. Her love for dance and her deep-rooted belief in spirituality creates elegance and divinity in her performance. She established Sarasa Natya Academy in 2012 with the sole objective of promoting Bharatanatyam in and around Greater Boston and has ever since been dedicated to propagating this divine art form. 


Vaishnavi is a rising junior at Acton Boxborough Regional High School. She has been learning Bharatanatyam since the age of 6 under the guidance of Guru Preethi Ramesh. Dance has been a major part of Vaishnavi’s life, as it is connected with her culture and heritage. She has participated in several cultural programs in and around the Boston area and has placed as a winner in Indian Raga's monthly competitions multiple times. Naturally, this was a much-anticipated performance, and it turned out to be quite the showcase of Vaishnavi's skills, in all three aspects 1) **nritta**, or technical dance, 2) **nritya**, or expressional dance, using facial expressions, highly stylized gestures, postures and body language to convey any mood; and 3) **natya**, or dramatic storytelling.


The event started with prayers to Lord Ganesha followed by the traditional Pushpanjali (offering of flowers), in raga Gambheera Nattai set to Adi Thala and Alarippu (blossoming of flower), in tisra jathi and Eka thalam. These two dances serve to warm up the dancer for what's to come. Vaishnavi was greeted by a thunderous applause and gave a fitting performance to kickstart her Arangetram. 


The opening devotional number Srivilliputhur Andal Kavuthuvam, set in Adi Tala and Gowlai Raga composed by Gangaimuthu Nattuvanar is in praise of Andal (A 10th century Tamil poet who is revered as a saint). The dancer offers flowers in praise of this Goddess in Hindu mythology. Vaishnavi's nritya or expressional dance, put the audience into a state of madhura bhakti (blissful devotion) during this kavuthuvam.  


Jathiswaram involves intense jathis (rhythmic patterns) with intricate footwork, devoid of any abhinaya. This jathiswaram was set in Ragamalika Raga and Misrachapu thala, and Vaishnavi flawlessly executed the adavus and mudras. 


The next performance was one of my personal favorites, Kanjadalayadakshi Kamakshi. This very popular kriti written by the great compose Sri Muthuswami Dikshithar, set in Kamala Manohari Raga and Adi Tala, talks about Goddess Kamakshi's eyes that are like lotus petals, her majestic demeanor and glorious radiant countenance. Vaishnavi’s wide variety of expressions combined with her gracious stage presence made it a truly immersive experience on Goddess Kamakshi for the audience. 


Varnam, meaning color, is the central piece of the Arangetram. The dance alternates between verses of nrita (pure dance) and abhinaya (facial expressions) as the dancer exhibits her expertise in both. This varnam is built around the love struck nayika cajoling her friend, to take her urgent message of love to Lord Muruga and fetch him. Nearly 35 minutes long, this was a test to the dancer's stamina, Vaishnavi had a superlative performance and put on a stellar show demonstrating all the skills that make up a Bharatanatyam performance. 


Sollale Iyambidal, a Keerthanam On Shiva set in Ragam Vasantha and Adi Tala was the ideal homage to the ultimate deity of dance, Lord Shiva in Nataraja form in Chidambaram. 


In the very popular Krishna Nee Beganae composed by Vysaraya, it is fair to say that Vaishnavi put the audience into a trance. She truly brought a young Krishna to life, her incredible expressions told a story, and her ability to portray both mischievous Krishna and his loving mother were exceptional.


The fast-paced and vibrant Thillana in praise of Lord Krishna and set in Brindavani raga and Adi Tala was a great final piece. This brisk recital was the perfect farewell and let Vaishnavi finish off strong with both pure dance and an action verse.


The arangetram ended on an emotionally high note, with Vaishnavi, her parents, and Smt. Preethi Ramesh's words of thanks and appreciation to a stellar crew and accompanying performances (complete list below) that made the night a grand success. 


Nattuvangam: Guru Preethi Ramesh

Vocal: Rajesh Raveendran

Mridangam: Sudhaman Subramanian

Violin: Nagarajan Veeramani

Flute: Chittoor Kumaresan Pathanjali

Photo: Jeyakumar Sathyamoorthy

Video: Manoj Panicker

Makeup: Anu Metra

Bookmark and Share |

You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Copyrights Help