This past summer has been a very busy one here at Prasad Photography! One of the things that has kept us happily clicking away was photographing portraits for 9 young ladies, each performing their individual Arangetram or dance debut performance. The arangetram (literally, "ascending the stage") is a rite of passage, the culmination of an odyssey that took each of these girls from student to graduate under the direction of guru Ramya Harishankar of the Arpana School of Dance in Irvine, California. Each dancer's performance consisted of two plus hours of the elaborate, graceful and highly technical Bharata Natyam form of dance.
Mitali was the first of this group to perform her Arangetram. Traveling from San Diego to Irvine for classes, hers (and her mom's!) is an example of the kind of dedication it takes to succeed as a Bharata Natyam dancer.
Like the other girls, Preethi is passionate about dance and also multi-talented. She enjoys learning carnatic music as well as designing in multi-media.
Leena was the youngest of the group, an eighth grader, yet extremely accomplished. She is also a talented musician in both voice and piano, having won several regional competitions.
It's Not Bollywood
Many of you are familiar with Bollywood (have you seen "So You Think You Can Dance"?) - but unlike the glitz and glamour of Bollywood, the Indian film industry that regularly stages elaborate choreography in exotic locales,
Bharata Natyam is one of the most famous Indian classical dance forms. Originating in temples in South India for centuries, it is now one of the most widely-performed dance styles in the world.
Nikita is a talented singer, performing with the Irvine High School Chorale, and her other activities include Youth Action Team and Red Cross Club.
Viva is quite the all-around dancer, having studied ballet, tap, hip hop and jazz - and she was president of the Hawaiian dancing club in high school to boot!
Adorned in brightly colored costumes, headdress, makeup, jewelry and a pleated skirt that unfolds into a fan, the Bharata Nayam dancers perform with bright-eyed enthusiasm, their side-to-side neck and eye movements, hand positions, balanced still postures and instantaneous morphing among characters dramatizing ancient tales.
Sheila is another all-around talented girl, playing tennis for junior varsity, as well as painting, training vocal carnatic music, and many other pursuits.
Among her many pursuits, Pavan is a very talented painter as well as an accomplished sitar player.
Tara loves the fine arts and is an award winning classical piano player, having won many competitions. She is also an honor student and is an active volunteer for Kids Who Care Foundation along with her many activities.
Sumona teaches Bollywood, yoga and meditation, as well as ESL and is an inspiration to many.
Keeping Traditions Alive
It has been so much fun photographing these beautiful young women who are actively keeping alive the honored traditions of their culture. Ramya was there at every photo session helping the dancers perfect their poses, some of which were very difficult (these girls were able to get their bodies into some very challenging poses!). Hair and makeup was done by Saru Janahan, who was always there with a smiling face and ready to jump in and help. Over the past few months, we have enjoyed getting to know all of them and to work with them individually. Each of them is so accomplished - with many other talents in addition to their mastery of dance. They are truly inspiring!
Here is a video showing some of amazing images of these girls. Enjoy!