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Arangetram: Kiran Belapurkar

Ramya Srinivasan

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Kiran Belapurkar
By Ramya Srinivasan


Kiran, a rising junior at the Academy for Science and Design, and daughter of Shellie and Vikram Belapurkar, gave a three hour solo Bharatanatyam Arangetram performance at the Salem high school, New Hampshire, on August 20, 2022. She has been learning the ancient and revered form of Bharatanatyam, since the tender age of 5 from Guru Smt Preethi Ramesh, Artistic Director of Sarasa Natya Academy, in Massachusetts. To Kiran's credit, she has qualified for her Arangetram at the young age of 15.

Kiran performed seven dance pieces depicting the range of the Bharatanatyam repertoire, incorporating the three elements of 'Nritta', 'Nritya' and 'Natya. The accompanying orchestra featured talented artists from India - Rajesh Raveendran (Vocal), Sudhaman Subramanian (Mridangam), Nagarajan Veeramani (Violin) and Chittoor Kumaresan Pathanjali (Flute). Kiran's performance received a standing ovation from parents, rasikas, artists and well-wishers.  


The audience responded enthusiastically to Kiran's performance as she displayed her mastery of the seven traditional Arangetram pieces. The program started with a traditional prayer song to invoke the blessings of the Lords. Kiran made her entrance with Pushpanjali, a devotional offering to Nataraja, the dancing Shiva, followed by Thodalayamangalam. It is a set of songs welcoming the God with all auspiciousness composed by great saints like Sri Bhadradri Ramadasa Swami, Sri Annamacharya, and Sri Vijayagopala Swamigal.

In the next piece, Jathiswaram in ragam saveri, the dancer brought alive the intricacies of the composition in which the swaras are set to various jathis to fit in the framework of thalam. Throughout the performances Kiran demonstrated the narrative and expressive aspects of the dance with much ease in spite of her not knowing the language of the compositions. This effort to dance to unknown languages was greatly applauded and is immensely commendable on behalf of Kiran.


This was followed by a thirty-five minute Varnam on Lord Shiva in Nattakurinji  composed by Papanasam Sivan. Varnam is the traditional test of the performer's mastery of the dramatic elements through coordination of facial expression, hand gestures and intricate footwork. Kiran executed this piece with grace and depth of feeling, moving the audience to experience rasa (aesthetic flavor), bhava (emotion), and abhinayam (expression).  Kiran enacted the sancharis in the varnam with great divinity coupled with splendid choreography and expressions. Kiran fabulously depicted the stories of Kannappa Nayanar, Markendeya and Nandanar.

The Chief Guest of the show was Smt Kalaimangai Anbalagan. She delivered a motivating speech on Bharatanatyam bringing out the essential elements of this ancient dance form and the utmost need for all of us to follow this ever divine art form.


The items following the intermission included Nirutha Ganapathi composed by Kalaimamani Guru Sri Madurai R Muralidharan in ragam kanakangi, describing the beauty of the dancing elephant headed god. Kiran majestically showcased Lord Ganesha set to a face paced choreography .


Next was a marvelous performance for a krithi on Lord Murugan. Mayil meedu virainthodi vaa in ragam Charukesi was a true visual and musical treat.

The performance elicited audience applause several times, especially as Kiran depicted the emotions of Valli for her love, Murugan. The sanchari where Lord Subramanya becomes a Guru to his father ( Lord Shiva ) and teaches him the meaning of Om was effectively received by the audience.


Following the honoring of the musicians and the Guru, Kiran rendered the Thillana, an elaborate sequence of pure dance involving a fine display of dexterity in footwork. This finale dance item was set in a rare ragam Soorya. It was in praise of Lord Shiva and a famous piece that created a joyful and an exhilarating mood.

Ending with the Mangalam, the performance captured the spirit and beauty of the art.


Expressing their enthusiastic appreciation of the performance were Sarasa Natya Academy dance students, community members, and dance and music supporters. We got to hear amusing anecdotes by Kiran's friends and her family who also summed up their experience: "they were so touched by her performance. They expected it to be amazing, but more so they were in pure awe witnessing the level of spiritual sophistication she had achieved in her maiden performance. Congratulations.”


As I watched Kiran's performance with growing wonder at her skill, stamina, and immersion in the spirit of the dance, I knew why we associate youth with hope and promise for the future irrespective of their cultural background and their abilities. I also had the honor and esteemed privilege to be one of the MCs of her arangetram along with Vidya who is Kiran's best friend.


I had tears in my eyes as I saw her complete her arangetram successfully despite her cultural differences and diverse language and origin background. I could realize the amount of hard work and sincere dedication she had put through to pull off this one of a kind feat!

The arangetram concluded on an emotionally high note with words of thanks and appreciation from Kiran's parents and her Guru Smt Preethi Ramesh that made the night a spectacular success!

I feel blessed and grateful to be a part of Kiran's iconic maiden performance and looking forward to many more stellar arangetrams from the students of the Sarasa Natya Academy! Kudos to the school and their Guru Preethi Ramesh!!


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