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Dance arangetrams
(Excerpted from the narthaki Discussion Forum)

February 6, 2008

I am a Bharatanatyam teacher. Some of my students are ready to perform their arangetram. I would like to know from teachers, if they charge a fee for training the student for an arangetram or do they let the parents decide regarding the Guru Dakshina.
- Sudha Raghuram (Nov 21, 2007)

It depends on your environment and principles. I teach Bharatanatyam because it is my passion and I want to build a rasika base for it. I do not charge for arangetrams. I do not even insist on a fee being paid for classes. But this is possible since my earning is not required to finance our family.
But on the other side things that are given to people "gratis" may not be taken seriously.
- Sangeetha (Nov 21, 2007)

If you are going to give special classes for the student (for arangetram), to fine tune the student and prepare her for the stage, then each extra class will add to the fee, right?
The guru dakshina is something the student can later give and is entirely up to her (and her parents).
- Anu (Nov 27, 2007)

Namaste, I don't know the answer to your question but just want to add some thoughts.

If you let parents decide the fees or do not take money, it does not mean that they are going to be non-interfering and let you present whatever you think is best for their children. So it may be better to quote a fee in return for your service.

They are going to have their thoughts on each item and I strongly recommend, you invite them and show all the pieces long before you take to stage. Parents have watched tons of other arangetrams and want to get the maximum bang for the money they are spending and somehow make their arangetram the best in the world. The student wants to know why we should not do a theme based arangetram like say - Navarasa arangetram. The parents tell me that they prefer longer length items where the child is challenged more, with more jathis etc. and comment on how one dance looks the same like another and the steps are same and not lively etc. etc. These are well meaning parents but form a lay audience and are being honest. Old time gurus would simply take offence and refuse to teach these folks. But most of the crowd thinks like them. So there is no point ignoring all this talk.

Not taking money, charging less etc. does not stop people from talking... Might as well take it and use your creativity to deliver the goods.
- Megha (Nov 22, 2007)

Charging a fee or not is personal.
I suppose a child who is doing her arangetram should have done some serious learning for at least a couple of years. By then, the following would be most likely about the student and her/his family:
1. They trust the guru. Otherwise they might have just hopped ...
2. Have a basic knowledge about the art form (at least, the student should). If not, why bother?

If that is the case, and if the guru is well established, inaccessible (I am sure it helps gurus to stay that way) and reasonably renowned, and talented, they may not negotiate with the guru about every item picked.

But it is not wrong for the guru to discuss/consult about the items to be performed. A thematic presentation (navarasa- might need more work from the student too!), choosing their mother tongue/religious preference based compositions, or shortening the pieces, esp the Varnam to reasonable lengths is Ok. If the original choreography had two jathis between the sahityams, better to clip it to one, esp if the crowd is uninformed and the student's stamina and nritta doesn't permit. It saves the audience, if any were paying attention and had a background; from having to go through the turmoil of having to succumb to the pain for long.

But sometimes, I always ask myself why do such students go in for an arangetram? Have you guys watched a few of the You Tube arangetram posts? Outrageous. But they are such stress killers. Please watch them!

When did arangetram become all about costume changes, invitation, compeering, foyer arrangement, and dinner? Is the "graduation performance" so popular because of the social recognition that it gives the family.

I have heard arangetrams as being described as "so many dollar/rupee arangetrams." I am not against individual spending efforts. Seeing it positively, it provides so many people with an opportunity.

But still some kind of quality appraisal like credit rating could help. Just joking!!
- Sangeetha (Nov 22, 2007)

I do not know if you also noticed, but it seems that most of arangetrams (according to now happen outside India! Does it mean that there is no future for classical dance in India any more???? Did all dance gurus migrate to the USA, Middle East, Australia, Singapore or Europe???
- Anusha Shankar (April 16, 2007)

I don't think the future of classical dance depends on the number of arangetrams. There are many excellent dancers/teachers who have never done their arangetram. Unfortunately, arangetram has become a fashion statement and a money-making business.
(April 17, 2007)

It is true that arangetrams are now a money-making business and a significant event in a teenager's life. Most Indian teenagers don't care for classical Indian dance. It is the foreign teenagers who are into classical Indian dance. This form of dance is becoming very popular among the Japanese as well as other foreign ethnicities. Foreigners have taken an interest in classical Indian dance. It's not uncommon for a major guru to have foreign students. I think there are more foreigners in classical Indian dance than there are Indians.
- Sunil Prakash Narayan (April 19, 2007)

"I think there are more foreigners in classical Indian dance than there are Indians."

I think you're getting a little carried away.
(April 20, 2007)

Just because narthaki doesn't list them, doesn't mean there are few or no arangetrams in India. People must submit their events to narthaki... maybe the ones outside India are just more active in doing this.
- Umesh (April 16, 2007)

Just because people in India don't report arangetram on Narthaki doesn't mean that there is no future of classical dance in India. People are still not that techno-savvy or familiar with internet to report arangetrams. It's not a part of their daily life. Or maybe arangetram is too common or just a stepping stone to stage performance to be reported!!!!!!!
- Kinnari Vora (April 17, 2007)

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