Experiencing an Arangetram

Vaishnavi – Global Photography

How fitting that our Director and Assistant Director of the Fordney Foundation, Marilyn Fordney and her husband, Alex Havasi attended a very special event on National Dance Day!  We are very fortunate that we can learn something new about dance we would probably never get to experience.   I will let Marilyn Fordney tell you all about this unusual cultural event in her own words.

On July 29, 2017, My husband, Alex Havasi, and I were invited by Dr. Mukund Shah and his wife, Usha to experience an Arangetram. If you have never encountered this word, it is from the language of India. An Arangetram marks a dance student’s entry into a higher advanced phase of dance, confirming her attainment of aesthetic maturity and completion of initial training. The literal meaning is “ascent to the stage.”

Usha and Marilyn Fordney Photo by Alex Havasi

Friends, family, and all those connected with the performance, such as musicians, vocalists, India dance enthusiasts, are invited to this special event. It began with a video explaining the history of this type of dance and how it died out and began a resurgence in 1936 by Rukmini Devi. She restored the art to its old glory.

Arangetram is one of the most significant and auspicious moments in a dancer’s career. It is the dancer’s first full solo performance where she receives blessings from her teachers and elders for a fruitful dance career. The physical mastery of Bharatanatyam (a divine classical art form) demands swiftness, precision, suppleness, endurance, and a feeling for rhythm. One of the main concerns of an audience member is to look to see if the dancer is able to convey her inner emotion with the use of her hands and facial gestures.

Vaishnavi – Global Photography

The dances tell stories, so a Master of Ceremonies explained the story for each dance before it was performed. The costume is a special design and color chosen for this event. A vocalist, Jyothishmathi Sheejith Krishna sang the story as it evolved and a violinist, Krishna Kumar, eloquently and proficiently played. We got to see Vaishravi Kadambi who is a 16-year-old teenager perform at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center on Saturday, July 29th. She studied this beautiful art form from Smt. Kalyan Shanmugarajah, who became like a second mother to her.

At the end of all of the 8 dances, various members of her dance education came forward to express a tribute to Vaishnavi.

Vaishnavi – Global Photography

As a final part of the ceremony, a graduation diploma was presented to her by her instructor, Smt. Kalyani Shanmugarajah (Artistic Director of the Kalapeetham School of Dance). It was very touching to hear the comments from her parents, Pramod and Bindu Kadambi, as well as her peers and educators. In some cases, the audience members were brought to tears from the emotion of it all. At the conclusion, everyone was invited to partake in a magnificent Indian dinner.

Wow, this for sure, was an extraordinary event with lots of intriguing, rare and emotional aspects of art. The photographs of Vaishnavi are beautiful.  We thank Marilyn Fordney for sharing this amazing event with us. There is always something new to learn about dance – the one art that ties all cultures together!

Vaishnavi – Global Photography

Thought Of The Week:

The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper  –  Bertrand Russell


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Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website https://slowmotiondancevideos.com/