About Us Contact Us Help




My Arangetram Experience - Neha Kumar

Neha Kumar

On the morning of August 1, 2009, I woke up automatically at 9:30 AM, a feat I have never accomplished on any other Saturday. It was six hours before my arangetram, and I could already feel a surge of adrenaline course through me. I walked around my house, running through my dances in my head while making sure my makeup, jewelry, and costumes were all packed. Right before I left the house, my mom gave me a big bowl of pasta that I ended up carrying with me in the car. I forced down about half of it before giving up – the tenseness had begun to set in.

I reached Littleton High School two hours early to get ready. Jothi Aunty applied my makeup and hair jewelry herself before running backstage to get the musicians ready. An assortment of my friends and their mothers stayed behind to finish coloring my feet and hands with red Sharpie, help me change into my first costume, and add the rest of the heavy traditional temple jewelry piece by piece. I sat numbly in the dressing room while everyone fussed around me, and forced myself not to think too hard about what was going to happen at 3:30 PM.

Too soon, the moment arrived and I readied myself in the wings to perform my Pushpanjali followed by the strenuous Natesha Kavuthuvam in praise of Lord Nataraja, the God of Dance. As the musicians began the song, I felt a rush of nervous excitement. Those first few steps onto the stage were perhaps the most terrifying I have ever taken, and I remember thinking I just wanted the whole thing to end. I had been on stage countless times before for dance recitals and theater productions without an ounce of stage fright, but those seemed like almost nothing compared to this. Thankfully, the initial shock soon wore off and I began to enjoy myself in the following dances, losing myself in the music and the stories I portrayed.

Most of my arangetram was a blur of dancing, alternated with rushed gulps of Gatorade in the wings, and before I knew it, I had reached the end. As I finished my Thillana and came back on stage for the Mangalam, I was in a daze. I walked to the beautifully decorated altar on one side of the stage and bowed deeply before God, incredibly thankful that I had successfully completed my performance. Then I crossed the stage and bowed to the musicians and my Guru, trying to convey as much gratitude for their patience and talent as I could in eight beats. A proud sense of achievement at what I had done filled my mind as the Mangalam ended and I bowed before the audience. But it was quickly replaced by a numb happiness with no room for thought as I lifted my head back up to see a standing ovation of about 400 people. My brain tried in vain to figure out what had just happened in the three hours that passed like three minutes. The music came to its final climax. And I stood center stage, palms pressed together, sweating under the hot lights and feeling like my legs were about to collapse, while the lights slowly dimmed on a smile too big for my face.

I have been learning Bharathanatyam from my Guru Smt. Jothi Raghavan for the past nine years. Under her guidance and training, I have learned a lot about dance as well as a great deal about myself. I have always had a love for dance and have also studied ballet, tap, jazz, and modern dance styles, but Bharathanatyam has given me a deeper connection to my heritage and a greater appreciation of the Indian culture. Preparing for my arangetram has made me into a more confident and disciplined person, and has been one of the most inspiring and fulfilling experiences of my life. In a few weeks, I will be a freshman at Tufts University where I plan to major in Biopsychology and minor in Dance. I never imagined I could be passionate about something so painful, but now I hope to continue Bharathanatyam for many years to come.

Now it has been two and a half weeks since my arangetram, and I can’t help but feel sad that it’s over. After all, I spent nine years working towards that day. Every time I wistfully glance at the traces of red polish still on my nails or flip through a copy of my program, already with a hint of nostalgia, I feel like the best part of my dance journey is over. But then I remind myself that the word “arangetram” literally means “ascending the stage.” And the climb isn’t over yet – this is just the beginning.

Bookmark and Share |

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

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Copyrights Help