If you have never heard of an Arangetram, get ready to be amazed…
(I am going to break it down here into only the very basics, but there are many layers that I won’t cover, so know that there is a good deal more to this than meets the eye.)
Basically an Arangetram is a sort of “graduation” performance that is undertaken by a student of Bharata Natyam. This classical Indian dance form is a combination of complex movements that are expressive, along with a spiritual component. Dancers prepare for this for a long time, and the final performance is typically a large-scale event. Some families even have musicians flown in from India to play for the dancer. Many times an auditorium or stage is rented out for the performance, and friends and family attend to watch the graduation dance.
I have attended several Arangetram performances, and they are actually quite an emotional experience. The dancers (and their family) put their entire soul into this one day, and it is a very long series of demanding movements that they must undertake. Most Arangetram will last between two and three hours, and it is almost continuous dancing. The teacher is called the “Guru” and they are also present for the performance. If you ever have the chance to experience an Arangetram, I would highly recommend it. You will get to see something truly unique.