Come 24 December 2021, Kumari Dhanvi Krishna Mandadapu will be the second student of Bharatanatyam dancer and Guru Smitha Madhav, to perform her Arangetram this year. Earlier, during the pandemic, Ramya Hasini, performed her Arangetram online. Dhanvi Krishna has been learning Bharatanatyam at Varna Arts Academy under Gurus Smitha Madhav and Bhargavi Parmeswaran for the past six years. Speaking exclusively to Natyahasini, Guru Smitha Madhav says Dhanvi has shaped up quite well. “She has performed in many of our group productions and thus has gained a fair amount of stage experience. I am sure this will help her greatly in her Arangetram. She is also learning Carnatic vocal music at Varna and her training in music helps her a great deal in her dance,” says the Guru.
Smitha is always happy whenever her students perform Arangetram, but at the same time anxious. “Happy that I am able to bring joy to the parents and the immediate family by grooming their child for her big day, but as a Guru, since I know the nitty gritty that goes into the Arangetram, I am naturally anxious that it should go on smoothly,” she says, quickly adding that nowadays the lingering presence of the virus in all our lives, makes one even more anxious.
Pandemic Disrupted Schedules: The Bharatanatyam dancer states that the pandemic disrupted the dance calendars for over a year. “Thus, once things got a tad bit better, we quickly decided on Dhanvi’s Arangetram. Thankfully, she has been dancing on and off stage with regularity for many years now. Hence, we could plan and put together things quickly. My colleague at Varna Arts Academy, Smt. Bhargavi Parameswaran also helped Dhanvi a great deal,” says the Seetha of Dr. M.S. Reddy’s ‘Ramayanam’.
The Varna Arts Academy founder says that Dhanvi will be presenting a traditional Margam that includes all the requisite elements of a Bharatanatyam Arangetram. “Of course, every Arangetram is special to the child, the parents, the family and the gurus,” she says. Guru Smitha says as a child needs plenty of practice before the Arangetram, they prefer recorded music. “With a live orchestra, we cannot realistically hope to have more than two or three rehearsals with the full team of musicians. This poses a major challenge. Thus, recorded music is helpful. We can give as much practice as the child needs,” she reveals.
Plenty Of Changes: Smitha says that since her Arangetram over two decades ago, there have been plenty of changes. “Back in the day, the only factor that decided whether or not a child would have the Arangetram was whether or not the Guru felt she was ready for it. We presented a traditional Margam only,” she says adding: “Nowadays, even at the Arangetram stage, students and their parents request that we include something new.” The Varna Arts Academy director says the recent changes are – social media, publicity, curtain raisers, promos, arangetram films, grand costumes, multiple costume changes, thematic Arangetrams, recorded music. “Nowadays, we also need to factor in exam schedules, weekends etc before scheduling an Arangetram. Plus, Arangetrams have become more of a social event these days. Lunches and dinners are served after the event. Small return gifts are sometimes given – all things that were unheard of in my student days,” says the pretty dancer.
Is there any learning and relearning process if one shifts Gurus, Smitha acknowledges may be sometimes. “But I make sure that the transition is smooth and seamless and that the child does not feel the change. I make sure that the student does not even realize that he/ she is having to make changes. I spare no efforts in ensuring that the child is given ample time to adapt,” says the accomplished choreographer and nattuvnaar.
Dhanvi, all set to begin her artistic journey
When Kumari Dhanvi Krishna Mandadapu, daughter of Smt. Thriveni and Sri Annaji Rao Mandadapu, will take the stage for her big bow, she will be fulfilling her mother’s dream, who wanted to learn dance as a child. At the age of four years, Dhanvi was initiated into dance. Before learning dance under Gurus Smitha Madhav and Bhargavi Parameswaran, Dhanvi began learning dance under Smt. Lalitha Sivajyothi, Smt. Anuradha and Smt. Meenakshi Vyjayanthi. At Varna Arts Academy, Dhanvi also learns Carnatic music from Smt. Mythili Mangu and Smt. Smitha Madhav.
Dhanvi says she is excited and nervous at the same time for her big performance. “I am also confident about the learning I have received throughout this amazing journey. I have been feeling anxious and thrilled about this solo performance,” she says. The youngster acknowledges that it was a happy moment when Smitha akka mentioned that she was ready for her Arangetram.
Prepping For Big Day: The debutant says that she has been practicing for almost the past nine months for her Arangetram. “I started practicing for half-an-hour in the beginning, which gradually progressed to nearly two hours every day now.” A IX grader at Silver Oaks School, Hyderabad, Dhanvi says: “A lot of thought process has gone into trying to make my Arangetram special. My parents have given their best providing me all support and encouragement preparing me for the big day. They are excited for my Arangetram and hoping to make it a memorable day in my life,” she says.
The first dancer in the family is very happy and grateful to all her friends who have been supporting her throughout this journey. Dhanvi has taken part in several prestigious productions of Varna Arts Academy such as Hari Koluvu, Azhagar Kuravanji, Sphurti etc. Also, she has won prizes at the national level in AIDA, Bhilai and other major events.