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Arangetram: Neha Khandekar

Sangeetha Prasanna

Arangetram is a milestone event in a student’s artistic journey and this summer has been witness to many young dancers and musicians taking a big step in that direction. Neha Khandekar, a student of Smt. Suman Adisesh of Spanda School of Dance in Acton, presented her Bharatanatyam Arangetram on August 6th 2022 at Bolton High School ably accompanied by her Acharya and a wonderful set of musicians.


The program started with a prayer by Neha’s grandmother seeking the blessings of the Saraswathi, the goddess of knowledge and learning. Attired in a beautiful purple and red costume, Neha began her recital with a Pushpanjali in Ragam Malayamarutham, followed by “Ananda Narthana Ganapathim” in Ragam Nattai. A dance composition of Smt.Savithri Jagannatha Rao, this brisk and lively item extolled the virtues of Lord Ganesha and described all his attributes marking an auspicious start to the evening. This was followed by Jatiswaram in Ragam Kanada by Sri.K.N.Dandayudhapani Pillai putting to test the dancer’s stamina and sense of layam on account of the complicated rhythmic patterns that dominated all through the number.  


Following this, Neha danced a rare keerthanam “Mohana Kalyani” of Meenakshi Suta alias Nagaraj in Ragamalika (Mohanakalyani, Vasantha,Vagadeeshwari, Nagagandhari & Ranjani).  She portrayed Devi as the consort of Sundareshwara, who is praised by vedas and worshipped by Brahma. Interspersing the sahityam, with swarams rendered on flute and small jathis gave an interesting twist to this item.


Highlight of the evening was a Varnam in Hindi set to Ragamalika and Adi talam. Written by Ajay Vishwanath and set to music and dance by Suman’s guru Smt.Padmini Ravi, “Sundariyonka Sangu Paaya” was a both an aural and visual treat to all. Comprising of complicated and tongue twisting jathis recited effortlessly by Suman, the varnam talked of Lord Krishna as the son of two mothers, his childhood pranks and his role as the guide and friend who blesses those near and dear to him. Episode of Krishna eating mud and getting chided by Yashoda was done well by Neha. In the Draupadi Vastraharan episode, Neha enacted the roles of Draupadi and Dushasan with such clarity, feeling and confidence that Krishna’s appearance to Draupadi’s pleas drew instantaneous applause from the audience proving that art continues to be a powerful medium to elicit emotional response (Rasa) from the viewer. Second half of the varnam dealt with love of Radha for Krishna and portrayed Raasleela and celebration of Holi.  Raas movements to lilting flute added to the beauty and charm of the varnam. All elements of varnam were brought about beautifully in this piece.


Post Varnam, Neha began the second half with a keerthanam on Shiva “Chandrasekharam” in ragam Chandrakauns describing him as the one who wears the moon on his head and as a beloved of Parvathi.


The karana movements incorporated in to the dance to show various forms of Shiva were done well. In tribute to Neha’s Maharashtran heritage, the Abhang “Brindavani Venu” by saint poet Bhanudasa was the next item to be performed. Percussion elevated the devotional fervor of the item and Neha captured the essence of “Abhang” meaning to lose oneself through dance or music by dancing the number joyously. The program concluded with a Thillana in Atana ragam, a compostion of Tanjore Ponniah Pillai in praise of Goddess Parvathi, followed by the famous Marati hymn “Sukh hartha”, seeking the blessings of Lord Ganesh.


Neha has a good sense of rhythm, aramandi and pleasing stage presence. Performing a nritta dominant margam is not easy and Neha with her stamina and high energy made it appear effortless. She was ably supported by a wonderful orchestra consisting of Acharya Suman Adisesh (Nattuvangam), Harini Darbha (Vocal), Siva Ponnudurai (Mridangam), Ravi Kulur (Flute), Sudarshan Chakravarthi (Percussion). Chief Guest of the evening, Guru Smt.Padmini Ravi in her speech, talked of Suman as a generous teacher who is always willing to learn. She also stressed the need of students to consider arangetram as a stepping stone and the importance of learning as a tool for artistic improvement.


A rising senior at Acton Boxborough High School, Neha is a wonderful Madhubani artist and her dance performance was as colorful as the paintings that were on display. Wishing her many artistic years ahead!


Written by

Sangeetha Prasanna – Alumnus of Kalakshetra, Natya Rasika School of Dance, Acton MA

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