Bharatanatyam is usually treated like an extra-curricular activity until it reaches the point of ‘arangetram’
Whether or not your child has the aptitude for dance, it is essential for you to have the financial resources to back your child, if you want him or her to go the whole hog.
Bharatanatyam is usually treated like an extra-curricular activity until it reaches the point of ‘arangetram,’ a graduation of sorts for the dancer.
Krishnakumari Narendran, director, Abhinaya Natyalaya, says it is similar to an authorised government exam. “One has to learn the art for about eight years and master two varnams, thillanas, padams and jathisvaram, at the least,” she says. It is a costly affair and involves stitching new clothes, buying orna- ments, hiring a good auditorium and paying for accompanying artistes.
“We do not mind spending for a one-time event in the life of our child; also, anything for the guru,” says Usha, mother of a student who learns dance at Sree Devi Nrithyalaya.
The institution’s founder Sheela Unnikrishnan does not encourage unnecessary expenditure for the event. In fact, philanthropists have sponsored some of her under-privileged students’ arangetram. She believes in making children perform group shows before their arangetram. “It helps them overcome stage fear and builds stamina gradually,” she says.
Ms. Narendran too is particular about stamina which is developed only through rigorous practise sessions. “Many students give up dance in class IX and return to it once they join a professional course or even later. They expect us to work miracles and train them for arangetram in a few months.”
There are, however, those like L. Murugashankari, who began to learn the art from the age of five, and has now given up a corporate career to take up dance. She had her arangetram only after 12 years of training as she had to work to save money for the occasion. But she feels the struggle is worth it.