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Arangetram: Nivedita Ramesh

Mitali Biswas

Bharatanatyam dance is an ancient, classical art form.  This style of dance incorporates both a traditional and spiritual base through distinct techniques based in pure dance, interpretational dance, and expressional dance.  Through intricate footwork, graceful hand gestures, and dramatic facial expressions, the dancer conveys various themes, depicting stories from Indian epics and mythology.

After many years of training, a dancer performs her arangetram, which literally means “ascending the stage”.  Here the dancer performs a repertoire of dances on an auspicious day in the presence of Lord Nataraja, her Guru, and her family, friends and well-wishers.

On Saturday, June 12, 2010, the Natyamani School of Dance presented the Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Nivedhitha Ramesh.  From beginning to end, Nive’s performance was exquisite.  She entered the stage for Pushpanjali, the first dance item, with an energy that captivated the audience.  With the intricately choreographed footwork mimicking the rhythmic pace and the graceful hand gestures coordinated with the melodious song, she began the performance engagingly. The Pushpanjali flowed into the second piece, a Ganesha Stuti. In describing the elephant-headed god, Nive’s expressions and emotions carried the performance to a higher level.

Jathiswaram is a piece completely based in nritta, or pure dance.  It sets the pace of the arangetram as it travels through different tempos of rhythmic steps.  Nive executed all of these rhythms gracefully and with precision. The complicated choreography and quick pace kept the audience immersed.  Setting the standard high right from the start, Nive continued with a piece on Goddess Parvathi.  Parashakti Janani was not only beautifully choreographed by her Guru, but was executed with perfection.  Nive’s expressions were striking. The climax of this dance item was when Nive did a floor routine, spinning on her knees in a big circle around the stage, holding several different poses. As the highlight of the piece, the complicated spins and vibrant expressions had the audience clearly responding with enthusiasm and involvement.

The central and most vigorous piece in an Arangetram is the Varnam.  This is the most elaborate item and incorporates every aspect of the Bharatanatyam art from.  It requires a lot of stamina, strength, grace, and the ability to convey deep emotions. In performing the Nattakurinji varnam on Lord Nataraja, the god of dance, Nive was exceptional.  She performed each intricate jathi with great precision and depicted each story expressively.  Keeping the energy high and the pace exciting, her graceful movements and flexible poses left the audience mesmerized and eager to watch the second half.

The second half of her performance was as beautiful and enchanting to watch as the first.  Each dance continued to engage the audience. It began with Sri Janaki Pathe, a dance depicting Lord Sri Rama. In portraying battle scenes with fierce anger, and flowing easily into yearning for the Lord’s appearance, the second half of the performance began entrancingly.

Yenna Tavam Seithanai, the second piece after the intermission, is a piece in which the poet wonders how Yashoda attained the Lord’s grace so easily, when great sages have prayed for their entire lives for his appearance. Nive charmed the audience with her portrayal of Lord Krishna as a child, gleeful and mischievous, until caught in the act by his furious mother. Her depictions of a mother’s love and of the poet’s wide-eyed wonder had the audience captivated in the emotions of the piece.

Her next piece, Dikku Teriyada Kattil, was a philosophical song, in which Nive, with her actions and expressions, likened a young married girl lost in the forest to a soul attempting to attain liberation. Charming the audience as a frolicking deer and keeping their attention with her portrayal of a tiger’s frightening roar, she held the attention of the audience throughout the piece, ending with an expressive story, in which Nive portrayed a rough, crude hunter and then, once again, the lost girl. Nive’s final dance, the Thillana, was a fast-paced, rhythmic dance with beautifully choreographed steps.  From difficult choreography to graceful hand movements, Nive’s skill in this intricate art form on stage. Her incredible footwork and stage presence culminated in a wonderful conclusion to her successful Arangetram.

The Guru of the Natyamani School of Dance, Smt. Sridevi Ajai Thirumulai, is well known as a dance teacher in the New England area. She has an inherent knack for instilling love for the art form in her students and that was apparent on June 12th at Nivedhitha’s Arangetram.

A good dancer performs beautifully, but an amazing dancer has the ability to engage the audience. Nive did both. Her arangetram is one that will stand out in the audience’s memories for a long time to come.

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