A look at some of the youngsters who made their classical dance debut in 2012

Be it due to liberalising social norms, increasing economic prosperity among the middle class or broadening of mindsets but classical dance is an increasingly popular hobby among urban youngsters. Gurus of the art often find that both parents and students are eager to attend classes till the child reaches the Board classes, and then the interest evaporates, as career (read pecuniary) concerns take precedence. In arts that have a tradition of a formal debut, it is often seen that the guru rushes to present students in one grand programme on stage just before they quit. This amounts to the debut becoming a farewell performance. However, many young artistes these days are opting for dual careers — balancing, say, engineering with Bharatanatyam or Kuchipudi with journalism. 2012 saw many such youngsters presented in their debuts. A round-up:

Geeta Chandran presented Radhika Kathal and Aditi Balasubramanian, whom she feels is “a child prodigy”. Saroja Vaidyanathan, whose Ganesa Natyalaya is known for its prolificacy in producing both programmes and new soloists, presented Himanshu Srivastava, Tanya Saxena, Ipsit Chopra among others.

Veteran Yamini Krishnamurti also presided over a string of debuts. Asked about her notable students in 2012, she mentions Megha, Raka Banerjee, Mansi Verma , Marini Raju, Kiranmayi Yenduri, Ishwarya. Besides, Jahnvi Sreedhar is presenting her arangetram recital this weekend in New Delhi.

Another veteran, Kanaka Srinivasan, presented two students, Mallika Mahesh and Shubali Mehrotra.Marie and G. Elangovan too organised the arangetram of two of their students, Sweekruti and Shruti Krishnan. Meanwhile, Kuchipudi veterans Seetha Nagajothy and Nagajothy also presented one, Sritanaya Sarma.

We take a look at some of these young exponents who performed their debut, known as arangetram or ranga pravesh (literally, ‘entering’ or ‘ascending the stage’ — the first a Tamil term common to arts like Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam and the second from Sanskrit), in 2012.


Marie and G. Elangovan

“Sweekruti and Shruti Krishnan learnt Bharatanatyam for over nine years before their arangetram. We normally consider a minimum of 7 years of training necessary before aiming for an arangetram. They have shown great interest and dedication and for them, to perform their arangetram was a dream come true. They are not planning to take dance as a profession but we know that learning classical dance is an experience that will enrich their life, broaden their perspectives and we hope, make them better human beings by teaching them values of compassion and humility. So their not planning to take dance as a profession doesn't deter us. . On the other hand, they have this desire to learn dance for as long as possible in the coming years.

A student should do arangetram only if they have humility, a positive attitude, ready to accept criticism and a good stamina. We believe that arangetram is meaningless if there is no transformation at a personal and spiritual level from the side of the student. The student should enjoy the long hours of practice which push their physical, psychological and emotional limits to the maximum. We explain to them how daily practices can be exhausting but if they relate and connect with the dance and music at a personal and spiritual level, the whole experience is rejuvenating and uplifting.”

Kanaka Srinivasan

“Once a disciple is considered fit enough to have her arangetram, I chart out a rigorous schedule of rehearsals three months in advance of the arangetram. I expect three main qualities from the disciple, especially during this crucial period. Regularity in attendance, devotion to the art and complete receptivity. The first does not require any elaboration. Without the commitment and devotion to the art, the disciple cannot withstand the rigours of training. Receptivity is equally, if not more important, because, I correct and criticise during the rehearsals with a view to fine-tuning and polishing the presentation, so that the arangetram is a resounding success.”