The most well-known Indian dance, Bharatanatyam, originates from Tamil Nadu in the south of India.
Furthermore, it is among India’s oldest dancing styles. Since ancient times, it has been fostered in the temples and courts of southern India and has been a component of the religion.
Bharata Natyam is an amalgamation of intricate rhythm patterns, countless hand gestures, several beautiful body movements and stances, and, perhaps most importantly, an astounding number of carefully constructed gazes.
The father of sophomore Kalyani Bhatnagar saw the famed Indian dancer Vyjayanthimala perform when he was a young boy. Anuj was determined to teach his children the skill after that day. Kalyani studied Bharatanatyam for ten years while his sons chose to pursue careers in sports. Kalyani rapidly found her passion in dance.
Bharatanatyam is a devotional dance in which the dancer “talks” with the heavenly powers, according to Kalyani.
It requires tremendous physical stamina and strength, as well as grace and finesse. That makes it difficult on a physical, psychological, and emotional level,” Kalyani said.
Kalyani worked with teachers at the Sanskaar Nritya Dance Academy in 2013 after she realised her love for the art form, and in 2018 she shifted to the Arathi School of Dance. After years of preparation, Kalyani’s guru determined that she was prepared to begin preparing for her Arangetram (stage ascent).
The Arangetram is a dancer’s first full-length solo performance, according to Kalyani.
The dancer becomes a fully-fledged artist at this time, marking the transition from student to apprentice. Because of their potential enhanced freedom, it is sort of like a graduation, she said.
Kalyani finished mastering her last dance the week before the Arangetram, and she also had four rehearsals with the musicians who had flown in from India for her performance.
The Arangetram features nine dances with durations ranging from five to twenty minutes, for a total of ninety minutes of dancing. Asha Gopal, a teacher, and other speakers gave speeches as part of Kalyani’s programme, which also had musical interludes and costume changes. The main guest was Monica Sampson.
The Pushpanjali, the first dance, is a warm-up act in which the dance receives blessings from the deity, the spectators, the musicians, and the teacher. The second and third dances—Alraippu and Jatiswaram—are shorter dances that emphasise footwork and body movement to demonstrate that the dancer is ready for the longer dances that will follow.
The Varnam is the fourth and longest dance. It lasts about 20 minutes and is the culmination of the performance. More intricate footwork that demonstrates the dancer’s fortitude is used.
The following three use a combination of expressiveness and footwork to highlight particular storylines. Dancers can share many facets of their ethnic roots with the audience through these pieces.
Throughout the performance, Kalyani changed into four different outfits made up of saris that had been altered for Indian classical dance. Her saris were sent to Phoenix after being created in India.
Each costume is also accessorised with a lot of jewellery. Headgear, two necklaces, three nose rings, a pair of sizable earrings, an elaborate belt, and silver anklets and bangles are among the items. The Ghungaroo (the bells), which were blessed and fastened to Kalyani’s ankles, are one of the most crucial costume components. They assisted her in maintaining rhythm while dancing.
“I had a large group of aunts helping me change costumes backstage. She claimed they managed to accomplish a full costume change in seven minutes.
Kalyani hopes to continue dancing now that she has finished her Arangetram, but she isn’t sure if she will stick with Bharatanatyam or try out other styles.
Kalyani participates in Veritas’ women’s chorus and theatre plays in addition to dancing. She works as a volunteer at the public library and is a member of the school yearbook club.
After graduating, she remarked, “I have some ideas of what I might want to do for a career, but I have a few years to decide.”