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Arangetram: Aditi Nagaraja

Soni Kumar

Arangetram: Aditi Nagaraja
by Soni Kumar

Aditi performed her Bharatanatyam Arangetram on July 9th, 2023 at Littleton High School in front of friends, family, and fellow dancers from the Bharatakalai School of Dance. She has been learning dance from her Guru, Smt. Jayshree Bala Rajamani, for countless years and has been putting in time and effort to get to this milestone. During the performance she was accompanied by an excellent ensemble of local musicians comprising her Guru on Nattuvangam, Smt. Harini Darbha on vocals, Smt. Sushmitha Ravikumar on violin and Shri Hariharan Shanmugam on Mridangam. 

Aditi’s grand ascension began with Thodaya Mangalam, an upbeat piece praising the various forms of Vishnu such as Krishna, Rama, and Narashimha. Thodaya Mangalam consists of different beats and rhythms and requires a lot of stamina as it has many pure dance elements. Aditi demonstrated her skilled dance steps in this piece, and illustrated the forms of Vishnu in a captivating way through her use of Abhinaya. This dance led straight into the Alarippu, a shorter dance in which the dancer slowly warms up their body starting with head movements and then going into arm and leg movements. As the moves get more complex, the audience can see the dancer blossom like a flower.

The next piece was a Jatiswaram, a pure dance piece in which the dancer must perform several sequences of complicated steps. Aditi demonstrated her strong Aramandi, fast footwork, and high energy level in this piece. Afterwards, she performed a Shabdam, a purely expressive piece about a young Nayika who is in awe of the beautiful dancing of Lord Nataraja whom she sees at a temple in Thillai. Aditi truly blew away the audience with her ability to convey the story.

After a good warm up, Aditi was prepared to perform her Varnam, the longest piece of the entire repertoire. In 30 minutes, Aditi conveyed several stories about Krisha and a young Nayika who wishes to go see him in Mathura. Through her expressive powers, she captivated the audience in the several stories she danced. She also demonstrated extreme strength as she performed several complex Jathis throughout the dance. I can confidently say this was the best piece of her Arangetram.

After intermission, Aditi resumed her dancing starting with a Padam on Devi who is seated on the throne of the Shri Chakra, a combination of 9 isosceles triangles. Next she performed a piece on Lord Shiva, using strong and energetic movements to bring out the beauty of his dance. Afterwards, she depicted Meera Bai, a devotee of Lord Krishna, and her joyful expressions showed the love Meera Bai has for her Lord.

Finally, Aditi finished her grand ascension with a Thilana. In this dance piece, she ended her entire Margam with a highly energetic and joyful piece, as I watched her I could feel her excitement. In her Mangalam, she offered her gratitude to her God, her Guru, the musicians, and finally the audience.

Aditi and I started off in the same dance class many years ago and she has truly grown as a dancer over the many years since. Our Margams shared many of the same dances in the first half because we started learning together, yet it was interesting seeing her perform them in her own unique dance style. She truly rose to the occasion and showed the audience and I all the hard work she has been putting in.

In Aditi’s own words, “The Arangetram itself felt surreal. The moment I stepped onto stage for my very first dance, Thodaya Mangalam, the nerves I had been feeling for the past several days vanished. The state of mind I had just stepped into was inexplicable other than being pure joy. I was expecting my dances to feel like just choreography or automatic since I had practiced my Margam so many times. However, when I was on stage, I felt as if I was in the story itself, whether it be talking to my Sakhi or looking for Krishna, it felt real. I feel so blessed and grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime experience because it is truly something I will never forget”.

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