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Arangetram: Nikita Minocha

Nandini Minocha

Nikita Minocha student of Guru Ranjani Saigal had her Arangetram on Sunday, August 4th at The Pike School in Andover, MA.

I am not a dancer myself and I do not understand classical dance like Bharatanatyam. However, as a lover of the arts and as a proud Aunt, I am delighted to share my thoughts about my experience at Nikita's Arangetram.  
This was my first time at an Arangetram and I shall quote the description from the brochure for the benefit of others:

“Arangetram is a 2000 year old tradition which literally means "ascending the stage for the first time" by the debutante. It means a culmination of an arduous process of dedicated learning of the delicate but demanding art. It is the presentation of a high level of achievement for the critical appraisal of a select audience of connoisseurs.”  

I have to say I was not aware what a triumph of the human spirit it is. I would like to compare this to a marathon, the time Nikita was on stage as she danced a total of 10 dances for over about a 3 hour period. I cannot imagine the kind of dedication, rehearsal schedules, and attention to detail, memorization skills that went into this performance. I think if I added the effort taken to train for a marathon plus a rehearsal schedule required to put up 10 Shakespeare plays, I may near the effort level needed to accomplish an Arangetram.

Nikita has been learning Bharatanatyam for the last 9 years from her guru Ranjani Saigal. While being a Junior at Brooks School in North Andover, she is also training to receive a black belt this fall.

Picking up the poem she wrote about her experience with dance, I quote:

"The pain shoots through your legs,
But you still have to smile.
Can you do this?
You have class for awhile.
Dance is a way of life,
A state of mind,
Where you can thrive.
The pain, that's still there.
But you finally feel alive."

Of the 10 dance items performed, I am going to pick up three to mention that were my favorite.

The first is the Shabdam. In a Shabdam, abhinaya composed to simple sahityam is usually separated by easy korvais. Ranjani ji created this unique Shabdam with lyrics from the composition “Shri Ramachandra Kripalu Bhaja Mana” where the poet describes the beauty, valor and compassion of Lord Rama. Nikita depicted the life of Shri Rama in the Shabdam, dancing with finesse on this Tulsi Das composition. The Ragam was Ragamalika and Talam – Mishra Chapu.

My other favorite piece was the Varnam. A Varnam combines nritta, (pure dance), with abhinaya, (expression), to tell a story.  Nikita’s Varnam was a composition of the renowned Dr. Balamurali Krishna, in Ragam Gambera Nattai, Talam Adi. This composition was dedicated to Devi who is referred to as Amma, the Divine mother, who the poet says is Ananda Dayini - she who gives great happiness, and the very incarnation of the three syllables of “AUM”.  The navaras are enshrined in Her. Nikita’s elaboration of the story of Abhirami Bhattar was spectacular. The portrayal of the navaras i.e. nine emotions, stole the audience’s hearts.

Nikita’s program had a rich collection of dances. Her rendition of the famous Bollywood classic ‘Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re’ was breathtaking. A piece from the film Kohinoor, the song describes the dance of Radha in Vridavan to the playing of flute by Lord Krishna and to the beating of the drums. Nikita did full justice to the delicate lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni. Addition of the Carnatic touch to the vibrant music by Naushad, made it perfect for the Arangetram repertoire.

The entire event was a beautiful team work between Guru Ranjani ji, the musicians and Nikita. I also want to give a shout out to my sister-in-law & brother-in-law, Parveen & Anil, especially Parveen. This Arangetram would not have been possible without her. Putting aside Nikita's effort, felt like she pulled off a mini wedding. It was spectacular & her speech in the end was the piece de resistance!

Nikita lastly, I hope this experience has given you an inner confidence to know you can do anything you set your mind to. Congrats for pulling this off ... I can't wait to see what magnificent things you achieve in life... am so proud of you my little warrior princess!

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