|Arangetram Highlights - pictures & student experiences|
|Sita's Arangetram on February 20, 2010
Guest of Honor - Dr. Purnima Shah
|Arzu's Arangetram on May 1, 2010
Guest of Honor - Sudha Chandra Sekhar
|Priya's Arangetram on June 13, 2010
Guest of Honor - Dr. Sunil Kothari
|Some Student Experiences
The study of this dance form is a lifelong quest. Given that, the learning is not limited to developing just grace, balance or ryhthm, which are pre-requisites for any dance. It is more than that. It builds character, it builds inner strength, it builds resilience and tenacity. So, for those who have the staying power and continue with their lifelong quest, the sense of achivement at every milestone reached is incomparable. Here are some expressions of those feelings. Of what the learning has meant to them. Reproduced here with their permission.
Arangatrem Essay for Asha Aunty.
It all comes down to that one moment where no matter how many people are around you, you still feel alone and so isolated because you know itís time. Itís time to get pretty and put on loads of makeup. Itís time to put on all that gorgeous jewelry and dress. Itís time to receive your blessings from your family and your guru. Itís time to put the bells around your anklets. Itís time to let your feet walk upon that stage and let your heart go on fire. Thatís how I felt every time I danced. I felt my heart go on fire because thatís what dancing did to me.
Eight years ago, I came into the world of rhythm, beats, and discipline. It was new. It was riveting. It was going to be an adventure. I can honestly say that I didnít feel anything when I was dancing at the time. I was dancing because it was for my mom. I was dancing because I wanted to follow her dreams. I was dancing because her face lit up every time she saw me perform and it made her so happy. For a long time, it was for her. She had grown up with so much passion for this type of dance and never got to pursue it when she wanted to. She passed it on to me. It was like her passing down the baton to me in a relay and saying, ďGo baby girl, you can do this. Run. Run for me.Ē And so I danced. I danced to see her smile and thatís what pushed me on and on. I still remember when we first started off with 20 students at the Kiwanis Center and how it all came down to four girls. Those three girls became a huge part of my life and we endured a lot together. Needless to say, we all grew up together with a lot of memories. However, we were followers. We watched each other as we danced and we depended on each other whenever we forgot our pieces. We relied on each other and we provided each other with some cushion so that we knew we would never be alone on and off stage but we were separated afterwards. That was when we saw our passion in this form of dance. We became our own selves. We discovered our identity. We saw something that could lead us into something more. We knew that our Arangatrems werenít going to come to us but that we had to run to it.
As we moved on, we learned so many things about ourselves that we never knew. I learned the feeling of being a performer. There were days where I just didnít want to go but once I was there, I never wanted to leave. I wanted more. We had one-on-one for about two years and the process for my Arangatrem began in September of 2009. Swathi just finished her Arangatrem. She was the first girl in the four girls that grew up as dancers. After watching her perform, I was ready to do mine because it felt so real. My rehearsal began in October and it was definitely one of the hardest tasks I had to do. Itís frustrating to know that you cannot hear everything you should. I hated feeling sorry for myself for the same reason every time. It was so frustrating because no one knew how it felt. I had no one to relate it to and no one would understand. It was like being alone through every rehearsal and proving to everyone that I was capable of it all. To be honest, the hardest part was seeing my family especially my mom watching me rehearse. I could tell she was scared. Her eyes were focused; her smile was slant, and her wrinkles forming on her forehead. She was scared because she was worried that I wasnít ready. It was hard because I donít think she realized how hard I was trying. My breaking point was whenever my hearing aids/cochlear implant died in the middle of my rehearsals due to the amount of sweat it was holding. No matter how many times I tried to explain how frustrating it was, the normal response ďDonít worry. Youíre doing just fine.Ē And I wasnít. Though those rehearsals were tough, I learned so much for the better. ďWhen youíre forced to stand alone, you realize what you have in youĒ and so I did realize what I have in me. The journey was not only a journey towards Arangatrem but towards completing my identity and who I am.
As February 20th came closer and closer, rehearsals became so much better than before. I was ready to do this. I gave up school for a week to get ready for the big day. My family was flying in from everywhere, India, California, Texas. It was amazing. My best friend, Priya, and my sister, Nina, were my biggest supporters. They were cheering me on and I knew I could count on them. I was ready to get on that stage and show them what I have been doing for the past eight years.
Everyone was ready. The stage looked so beautiful, the orchestra were prepared for the night, dinner was set, the Nathraja was placed magnificently, makeup, hair, jewely, and dress were done, people started coming in, and me? The star of the night? Iíve been ready for eight years so all I could think was ďLetís go and rock this show!Ē I had my sister behind me, my best friend working on the lights, and my family and friends in the audience ready to watch me. It was going to be great night.
My thoughts before going on stage were that this time I wasnít proving to anyone anything. I was proving to myself that I can do this and that I am stronger than I have ever been. The spotlight was waiting for me and so I danced. Sure I made mistakes but I redeemed myself. Afterwards there were so many people who congratulated me for my achievement and it felt so good. I was a dancer but this was only the beginning.
I remember leaving the Seabrook auditorium. It was such a strange feeling. Everyone had left and I was the only one standing on that stage in my dress. I didnít want to leave. Even though I accomplished my dreams, I felt like I was leaving everything that I worked so hard for behind. I kept reminding myself that this is only the beginning and more to come. It was definitely a journey. In the end, I did this for myself because I wanted to. I just hope that I made my mom proud because I couldnít even tell. Even to this day, I still donít know if I did but it doesnít matter because I am proud of myself. If you had asked me before what I thought an Arangatrem was, I would have told you that itís a significant accomplishment for a dancer to achieve. Now, itís so much more than that. Itís going through so many years of learning. Itís going through frustrations, fights, laughs and passion. Ití leaves you with memories that makes you want to relive them again and again. Itís seeing what you are capable of and where your passion lies. Itís seeing how much you are willing to sacrifice for something you love. Itís creating your individuality and I did. If I could it again, Iíd do it all the same.
Thank you, Asha Aunty. For everything. Thank you for coming to Fayetteville eight years and changing our lives. You did change our lives. I am more than sure that Swathi, Arzu, and Priya would agree with that too. Sure, weíve had our fights and frustrations at times but we always had a good time. I am so glad that I came back to dance this week and I will be continuing in the future. Iíve learned that it is my passion and I honestly donít know where I would be without it. Thank you. You mean so much to me and you sacrificed a lot for me. I just couldnít thank you enough.
Bharata Natyam has been with me since I was 7. Ever since then, I pursued my goal of achieving the Arangetram after many years of perseverance. My Arangetram that is coming up in September will close the dance chapter in my life as a student, but will open another as a performer. All these years have meant so much to me, and I would never replace them with anything else. My teacher has also been one of the reasons that I am looking forward to September. She has never given up on me through all the hard times I gave her, and also when I found some areas of dance too hard for me. The Arangetram shows how much work Iíve put into this ever since I was a little kid, and itís finally the closing of all the hard work and memories that dance has granted me. I appreciate it so much, and Iíve learned numerous things from it, including several aspects of life.