Jwala Rejimon’s Bharatanatyam Arangetram – Review by Parvathy Hadley

On Aug 15, 2015  we were treated to a delightful 3 hour Bharatanatyam performance showcasing the artistry, versatility, maturity and endurance of our talented teenager Jwala Rejimon. This event was the culmination of careful planning and organization by her parents and teacher. The Zionsville Performing Arts Center has the right kind of stage, hall and acoustics for such an event. Finding a suitable orchestra to provide live music accompaniment is crucial; getting the award-winning vocalist Smt. Arthi Kumar was just serendipitous.

Jwala learns Bharatanatyam dance from Smt. Mangala Anand whose students amaze me with their precision and synchrony. The process of preparing with different teachers has also helped build her confidence and comfort level on stage. Jwala started her performance with the traditional invocations to Lord Nataraja (Lord of Dance) and Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. These were followed by 2 pieces that showcased her Nritta skills, and then a Shabdam that highlighted her expressiveness. This was followed by the longest and most  complex piece, a Varnam, which alternated between fast footwork and Abhinaya. The second half featured story-telling – a naughty Krishna is caught stealing butter, and pleads charmingly with his mother; Lord Shiva as a Shilpi; stories from the Ramayana featuring Ahalya’s release from a curse, the forest dweller Shabari giving fruit to the hungry princes Rama & Lakshmana, Rama stringing the mighty bow of Janaka, etc. Jwala concluded the program with a Tillana by Sri Lalgudi, and then Mangalam. Three hours flew by quickly, with the audience mesmerized by the variety and smooth fluidity of the performance. I am still amazed at her balance and ability to do the difficult Yoga poses toward the end of such a grueling routine.

As if all that was not enough of a feast, the arangetram was followed by an excellent dinner.

Dr. Parvathy Hadley

parvathy

Dr. Parvathy hails from Thrissur. Earned a BSc Physics with First Rank from Kerala University, BE in Electrical Communications Engg from IISc, Bangalore, MS and PhD in CS from USA. Worked for 17 years in designing CNC machines for metal fabrication; the last 20 years in the auto industry speech technologist at Delphi Automotive Systems, also various automation and safety programs. Served as secretary and president of Carnatic Music Association of Indianapolis, organizing Tyagaraja festival / Pancharatna singing etc. She has learnt several languages, a small amount of Hindustani music and a good amount of western classical music.

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Arangetram

Classical Indian dance forms such as Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dance have become very popular in recent years, largely because of the growing influence of the prosperous Indian diaspora in the in the West, especially in the United States, Australia and the UK.

Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dance are today considered to be the purest artistic symbolization of the Indian identity, and of the 5,000 year old culture and heritage of the ancient land. These dance forms are practiced and performed by hundreds of thousands of girls and young women in India and abroad.

Dance Arangetram is the most important performance that a young Bharatnatyam or Kuchipudi dancer would make in her dancing career. Arangetram is a Tamil term that is used to refer to a young dancer’s debut performance. It is derived from the Tamil words, Arangam and Erru, which mean “to ascend the stage”.

All dance forms in India have their own version of Arangetram. A debut performance by a Kathak dancer is called as a rangapravesh, while that of an Odissi dancer is called as an arangmanchpravesh.

Dance Arangetram has become so important these days that elaborate ceremonies are organized by the parents of the young dancer around the performance of this event.

Within Bharatnatyam, the tradition of Arangetram finds its first reference in the historic Tamil text, Cilappatikaram, which dates back to the 2nd century CE.  The text follows the life and times of a young dancer of that time, Matavi and describes her Arangetram in detail.

Scholars such as Saskia Kersenboom and Leslie Orr have discussed the historical significance of Bharatnatyam and Arangetram in detail, in the context of the old devadasi system (which was subsequently banned).

Back in those days, Arangetram was a formal system of introducing a dancer to her royal patrons, to asses her quality and to establish a connection between the temple, where she was trained and the court, where she would be favored with monetary benefits and other incentives.

Later, in the first half of the 20th century, the Arangetram was performed by professional dancers in theatres, where they would be judged by a live audience comprising of Brahmins and other members of the privileged upper class. This performance held an economic significance for the dancers as it could make or break their career in dance.

Since the 1970s and 1980s, when the Indian diaspora spread to the United States and Europe, the Arangetram was still performed, but for different reasons. It was performed by young women who practiced the Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi dance as a hobby and to maintain their ties with the Indian culture– not because they had any interest in becoming professional dancers.

Like Bat Mitzvah, a religious “coming of age” ceremony for Jewish girls, the Dance Arangetram became a part of growing up for girls of Indian origin. The audience for the performance is comprised of   friends and family and not by the paying public. So the dance is performed in a friendly and encouraging environment, and there is no pressure as such as to perform.

This is unlike performing before an audience of dance teachers, connoisseurs, teachers and critics, where there is a real chance of the dancer being unable to impress and failing in her first performance.

Following the end of the dance, the dance teacher or the guru is honored for their role in training the young dancer. Most young dancers perform a solo margam and display the full extent of their Bharatanatyam or Kuchipudi repertoire during the debut dance. For many, it is the most wonderful experience of their life, something they would treasure forever.

 

Arangetram orchestra of Jwala’s Arangetram

Kum. Arthi Kumar, Vocal

Arthi Kumar, an accomplished Carnatic Vocalist, blessed with a beautiful scintillating voice, soulful music, and a strong foundation in Carnatic music, has captured the hearts of many rasikas. She is a versatile and highly talented singer with a focus on excellence in her rendition of krithis, ragam, kalpana swaram, and neraval. She focuses on the innate nuances of each note and infuses “bhava” into every verse that she sings.

Arthi is forever indebted to her gurus, Smt S. Sowmya (Chennai, India), Sri Madurai R. Sundar (Detroit, Michigan) and Sri K. Vijayraghavan (Chennai, India).

She has given concerts in prestigious sabhas in Chennai, India and in various cities in USA & Canada. Her concerts have received tremendous praise and applause from connoisseurs and critics alike.

She not only gives vocal concerts but also sings for dance arangetrams (debuts).

Charsur Arts Foundation North America Talent Search and iCarnatic through competitive auditioning, have showcased her renditions under their banner in 2011.

She has won many awards and was a prize winner in the following events:

  • “Runner up” Carnatic Idol USA 2012
  • Syama Sastri Competition, Music Academy, August 2009 (Chennai, India)
  • ISAI VELVI 2008 Competition, by Sri Ghatam Suresh – (Chennai, India). As a winner, she performed at a prestigious sabha for the December Music Festival Season 2008 in Chennai.
  • Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana including the 2009 & 2012 Concert Competition (Cleveland, OH)
  • Chicago Thyagaraja Utsavam Competition (Chicago, IL)
  • Samagana Music Competition (Detroit, MI)
  • Papanasam Sivan Competition (Columbus, OH)
  • Tambaram Music Club Competition (Chennai, India)
  • Harikessanallur Muthai Bhagvathar Competition held at Narada Gana Sabha (Chennai, India)

 

Sri. G. Ganesan, Mridangam artist

G. Ganeshan had his training in Mridangam from Guru  Hanumanthapuram R.J. Bhuvaragan for more than 20 years. His dedication and hard work & impeccable work ethics enabled him to climb the ladder of success at a very young age . He was awarded the Govt of India Scholarship, and the Best mridangist award from the VDS Arts Academy, Chennai, India. Ganesan has accompanied on the Mridangam to all the leading Dancers in the Bharathanatyam field. He has accompanied leading dancers like Uma Dhandayuthapahani, Parvathi Ravi Ganta Sala, K.J.Sarasa, Indra Rajan, Venniradai Nirmala (Film Actress) He has also accompanied with Haridwara mangalam A.K Palanivel (Tavil) & toured with him to Srilanka.He has also participated in all the prestigious Dance and Music Festivals in India and Abroad. He has toured Bangkok, Canada, Mauritius,Dubai & Srilanka. Ganesan has been featured in all major Tamil TV Channels like the Sun TV , Vijay TV , Raj TV & is a graded artist if All India Radio & Doordarshan. He also holds a bachelors degree in Music from the University of Madras. He has more than 15 years of teaching experience and has worked d a music instructor in Kola Saraswathi Higher Secondary), Papanasam Sivan Fine Arts Academy and at AVM Rajeswari Higher Secondary School. He has also trained several students privately who are performing musicians now. Ganesan’s creativity has enabled him to create his own style. His crisp tonal quality and modulation of sound production is musical and guarantees an artistic contribution to the Dance performance. After gaining experience for over 25 years, Ganesan received many accolades and awards and has also performed in many prestigious centers.

Sri. C.K.Vijayaraghavan, Violinist

Sri C K Vijayaraghavan hails from a family of mucisians. He started learning Violin at the age of seven.  He was much blessed to learn this divine art from his Grandfather Violin legend Kalaimamani Sri Chittoor Gopalakrishnan. His forefathers were the Asthana Vidwans of Chandragiri and Venkatagiri Samasthanams. He belongs to eighth generation. He has been performing very early age with most of the leading artists in South India in Indian music at Madras University. He has received an advanced scholarship from Ministry of Human Resources in 1997-99 and the music academy scholarship in 1998.

He is the recipient of many awards like the best violinist award from the Music Academy in the year 2001 and Krishna Gana Sabha in the year 1997, Violin Isai vendan by Flute institute, London, Violin Nada Siromani by Prassanna Bharatha Vidyalaya, Chennai, Thanthi Nadha Jothi by Mayura Natyanjali, Mayiladuthurai. He is the Asthana Vidwan of Kanchi Kamakodi Peetam, Kancheepuram.

He has professionally toured London, USA, Srilanka, Dubai and Malaysia. Currently he is training more than 100 students in vocal and violin. He also plays violin for Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi arangetrams and other Kucheris.

Sri. Chittoor K Patanjali, Flutist

Sri Chittoor .k.Pathanjali traces his lineage to an illustrious family of musicians of great eminence.His father Sri C.G.Kumaresan is an accredited artiste of AIR-felicitous in violin and viola.His grand father “Kalaimamani Sri Chittoor Gopalakrishnan is a violinist of great repute .Chittoor .K.Pathanjali was initiated into the intricacies of the woodwinds from a tender age by his grand father.He had his arangetram at the age of 9 in the presence of HIS HOLINESS SRI SRI MAHAPERIVA at Kanchi mutt.A scholarship awardee of the prestigious CCRT NewDelhi.He was honoured for his performances at the historical ULAGA THAMIZH MANAADU by the Tamilnadu Chief Minister.
He is the recipient of “ASTHANA VIDWAN” title of KANCHI KAMAKOTTI PEETAM  and awarded “VENU VADHANA RATNA” by SRINGERI MUTT Mysore.He has toured many countries such as U S A, CANADA,MEXICO,UAE.
He is also a prolific composer cum tune star  and the “KAMAKSHI NAVA RAGA MALIKA”so beautifully penned and tuned by him are celebrated as much for their lyrical beauty and devotion as for their melody.He mentors more than 100 students.

Jwala Rejimon’s Bharatanatyam Arangetram – A debut to look forward to!

Bharatanatyam Arangetram            Bharatanatyam arangetram

Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation”. Once in a while we come across gifted individuals who passionately put their talent into practice and achieve excellence and then make it a habit. Jwala Priyadarshini Rejimon belongs to this rare breed of gifted individuals who exemplify Aristotle’s quote. She has demonstrated her prowess and hard work since childhood and has achieved excellence both in dance and music. Jwala is the incredibly talented daughter of Rani Rejimon & Rejimon Varghese of Indianapolis, IN.  She started learning Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form of India, since she was seven years old and has won numerous laurels throughout her journey, including the first prize in FOMAA dance competition in Chicago, and is currently getting ready for her formal debut of Bharatanatyam performance, The Arangetram, on August 15th, 2015.

Jwala is the disciple of Smt. Mangala Anand, Founder and Artistic director of Nrithyabharathi Institute of Dance, who has been a tremendous inspiration to Jwala. With a career spanning more than 18 years, Smt. Anand is a highly accomplished dancer & choreographer who received training from renowned Gurus Bharat Siromani Smt. Padmini Ramachandran (popularly known as Padmini Priyadarshini) and Singarmani Smt. B. Bhanumati.  Nrithyabharathi, founded in 2008 in Carmel, IN, takes a holistic approach in teaching Bharatanatyam – it not only trains students in dance but also infuses traditional values and nurtures personality towards all-round excellence. The widely acclaimed Ranga Shankaraa, the annual Dance & Music Festival that brings world class professionals on one stage, is presented by Nrithyabharathi.

Jwala also excels in music – both Western and Carnatic. She loves Western flute which she started learning in 2009 and within a short time rose to prominence and won many accolades and prizes including several ISSMA gold medals and the prestigious New World Youth Orchestra competition in 2013. Another feather in her crown is that she has recently played master class for world famous soloist Ms. Jasmine Choi.  Jwala started learning Carnatic music since she was 12 years old and is currently a student of Mrs. Bhavadharini Anantharaman who in turn is a senior disciple of Sangita Kalanidhi Smt. D.K. Pattammal. Jwala loves to sing Carnatic music and received high praise for her performance in Temples and cultural events.

Jwala currently is a senior at Carmel high school in Carmel, Indiana. She is very active in student bodies and is also responsible for founding several creditworthy projects. She founded Band council at Carmel HS for which she currently serves as the President. She is also the co-founder of NRIscholarships.org

Jwala’s arangetram will be a visual feast for dance connoisseurs and lovers alike. With Jwala on the center stage and an extraordinarily talented ensemble of musicians and crew supporting her, it is a treat to look forward to. The event will also be graced by distinguished guests that include eminent personalities in Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music. Sri V.V. Sundaram of Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival is the Chief Guest and Smt. Hema Rajagopalan, pioneer Bharatanatyam Guru of USA, is the Guest of Honor for the occasion. Sri K.P.Singh, distinguished artist and author will also grace the event as the Guest of Honor.

Jwala not only possesses an amazing talent but she is also born with a big heart. In addition to the examples given above about her initiatives to help students, for her Arangetram also she has decided to donate the proceedings to local charity organizations.

Jwala is extraordinarily gifted and has been nurtured well by the great hands of her guru Smt. Anand. When we look at Jwala, it dawns on us that Smt. Anand has two Priyadarshinis in her career, her own guru, the great choreographer Padmini Priyadarshini and Jwala Priyadarshini – a young talent who has the potential to scale great heights! … and Jwala has the right skill set and passion to achieve any set goal! To hold mirror to this passion, Jwala sums up her thoughts on her website (www.jwalarejimon.com) by saying that: “Music is my life…Dance is my passion”.

For more details about the Arangetram, please go through the invitation at the following link:  http://www.jwalarejimon.com

http://www.dancecostumesandjewelry.com/arangetram/  Bharatanatyam arangetram

By: Dr. Siva Prasad Kumpatla