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Arangetram: Janhavee Deshpande


Janhavee Deshpande, a 17 year old senior from Westborough High School, recently successfully completed her solo dance debut in Bharatanatyam. The evening at Ashland High School Auditorium began with a brief introduction to Bharatanatyam and the meaning and cultural significance of an arangetram. Subsequently the Guru Smt. Sridevi Ajai Thirumalai along with her disciple (and parents), and the members of the orchestra performed a pooja of Lord Nataraja and Shri Ganapati.

Janhavee began her recital with a Pushpanjali followed by a Ganesh Vandana in Raga Gambeera Nata. The Jatiswaram was a piece of pure rhythm and involved intricate footwork which mesmerized the audience. From then on it seemed as if Janhavee the dancer had taken wing and there was no stopping her. In the Saraswathi keerthana Janhavee immersed herself in the Goddess of Knowledge that she was describing. The piece de resistance of the entire performance was the beautifully choreographed and exquisitely performed Varnam. The Varnam described the various forms and “leelas” of Lord Krishna the Ultimate Protector and Lord Divine of the Universe. In addition to the complicated jatis, the highlights included Janhavee’s emotional and heartwarming portrayal of the loving Yashodha and an awe inspiring rendition of the evil Putana as she tries to kill the baby Krishna. As Janhavee concluded the varnam, she had danced her way into the heart of the audience. There were many tear filled eyes as the curtain came down at the end of the Varnam.

After the intermission, Janhavee gracefully performed several increasingly fast paced pieces. A very interesting piece was the Kavadi Chindu that not only had fast and intricate footwork but also a lilting rhythm of pure devotion which was aptly seen through the excellent abhinaya of Janhavee.  The performance ended with the final crescendo of pure dance: the thillana. Janhavee excelled in this piece as it was clear that she had given herself up totally to the rhythm and the music. A Marathi abhang (Khel mandiyela valavanti payee) by Sant Tukaram concluded the evening.

Janhavee’s seemingly effortless dance complemented by her near perfect hasta-mudras and superlative abhinaya were a sheer joy and brought the entire audience to their feet.  It was amply clear as she danced that  not only was she a truly dedicated student but also that she had received excellent training and dance education with a very loving and nurturing teacher. Kudos to both Janhavee and Smt. Sridevi Thirumalai for presenting an evening of pure enchantment and ananda for all of us in the audience.

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