Arangetram is one of the most nerve-wracking yet exciting parts of being a Bharatanatyam student. It is similar to a rite of passage that concludes you as a part of something. To be precise, after years of training, the guru decides whether or not a student is capable of performing as a soloist. If yes, an Bharatanatyam arangetram ceremony will be held for the particular person.
Typically, arangetram ceremonies are 2 to 3 hours long. It is similar to a test, but instead of showcasing the brain skills, the dancer showcases his/her dancing skills that he/she might have accumulated over the years.
What is the Purpose of Bharatanatyam Arangetram?
Bharatanatyam, as we all know, is an expressive, technical, physically demanding and symbolic art form. In order to master the dance form, the dancer requires undergoing challenging training to understand its various concepts.
As mentioned before, Arangetram is similar to the common rites of passage, such as martial arts belt testing, weddings, proms and even graduations. This ceremony tests a student’s proficiency in the art form. In fact, it is necessary for all the qualified students to participate in the arangetram ceremony in the honour of perfecting their Bharatanatyam technique.
Arangetram Ceremony of Radhika Merchant
What are some common challenges faced by the dancers during the arangetram, and how to overcome those?
1. Time Commitment
Problem - It takes years for people to become proficient in Bharatanatyam, which means one can take anywhere between 7 to 10+ years before being able to perform at their Arangetram. This decade-long commitment can mean attending weekly Bharatanatyam classes, annual recitals, and even studying for any dance examinations in between. All these and more, while the student is taking care of personal and academic life. This can raise concerns in many parents’ minds.
Solution - Even though students, especially those academically involved, have busy lives. But as a parent, you can be the cheerleader to ensure your kid enjoys the best of both worlds, that is, Bharatnatyam classes and academic courses. You can enrol your kid to dance classes that offer flexible coaching time. And if you think your child has lost focus in Bharatanatyam due to other important things in his/her life, you can always support him/her to come back to the training when ready later in life. And as they say, one is never too old to learn. The same concept works in Bharatanatyam, too.
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Problem - Most parents worry that their kid doesn’t have the right confidence and talent to perform at an arangetram ceremony. As a parent, this is a normal concern that you may have, especially when enrolling the kid for the first time in a dance class.
Solution - It is important to note that it may take years for your child to become eligible for an arangetram ceremony. And by the time your kid reaches that stage, reliable Bharatnatyam classes should be able to develop confidence in your kid while teaching the mudras. Also, if your kid is permitted to perform at the arangetram, his/her guru will ensure to coach the family at every step of the way before the ceremony.
3. Cultural Appropriation
Problem - It is important to be mindful of social and cultural differences, especially since we live in a diverse one. It can feel intimidating to express interest in a dance style like Bharatanatyam that is culturally significant. In fact, many people feel that they aren’t eligible to participate in arangetram ceremonies just because of their cultural differences.
Solution - You should know that there is no one person appointed to gate keep certain traditions or cultures. If you think you are being excluded from such ceremonies due to your race, sexual orientation, gender, etc., you need to rethink your participation in that community. Join a dance class that respects people, irrespective of their cultural diversity and gives everyone adequate opportunity to learn the dance forms.
Typically, Bharatanatyam classes host or throw Bharatanatyam arangetram ceremony for students to celebrate the preservation of this culturally and historically rich and artistic dance form. However, it depends upon the student whether or not he/she should have an arangetram ceremony for his/her family.
We hope this blog was able to navigate you through the term arangetram properly!