If the Arangetram of a student brings joy to parents, elders, family members, a large circle of friends and most important of all to the Guru, then Kalaichchelvi (Selvi) Uthayakumaran, Director and Principal of the Auckland based Narthana Aalayam School of Indian Dance would have every reason to be proud of her ward.
Over the years, Selvi has taught, molded and sent to stage scores of students who conform to her principles, discipline and teachings of Bharata Natyam in ‘Kalakshetra’ style, bringing to the fore one of the finest arts of South India.
The Arangetram of her student Pooja Prasad at the Ray Freedman Arts Centre (Epsom Girls Grammar School) on Saturday, April 26 (at 530 pm) would be watched with intent by invited guests, some of who may have travelled from afar.
Selvi places a stringent regime over her students selected after several years of training, during which they are obliged to follow a strict routine.
Pooja was no exception. The 18-year-old has been learning Bharata Natyam for the past 13 years, about seven of which have been under Selvi.
“Learning the art in Singapore (where she lived for six years) under Gayatri Sriram (of Shruthi Laya) and her Guru Minal Prabhu (Mudrika Foundation, Bangalore) was exciting but Narthana Aalayam challenges every student to rise to high standards. While Arangetram is most important phase in the life of an artiste, I am honoured to perform as a disciple of this great Guru in Auckland,” she said.
Guru & Guide
Selvi is a professional who judges the readiness of her students and ensures their competence before allowing them to have their Arangetram. She always accompanies her students as they shop (invariably in Chennai) for their costumes, jewellery and other items for their ‘big day.’
“No student can be rushed to present his or her Arangetram unless he or she has reached the level of proficiency and cultural fineness that are mandatory. It is as much the reputation of the Guru as indeed it is the honour of the great art that are at stake. Pooja has reached the stage for her public debut,” she said.
As is her wont, Selvi has given vent to her innovative spirit even in such traditional items as ‘Varnam’ and ‘Thillana’ in the forthcoming event of Pooja.
She has incorporated ‘’Vaaranamaiyiram’ from ‘Nachiyar Thirumozhi’ describing the eagerness of ‘Andal’ to join Her Lord (Krishna), while the 45-minute ‘Varnam’ would indubitably test the endurance of the debutante.
A second-year student pursuing her graduate degree in Commerce with Accounting and Finance as major subjects at the University of Auckland, Pooja is confident of maintaining her passion for the ancient art even as launches her career as a finance professional.
Among the supporting artistes at her Arangetram would be Selvi (Natuvangam), Praveen Geetha Ramachandran (Vocal), Narayanan Nagai Subramaniyan (Mridangam), Shankar Venkatraman (Violin) and Ramesh Baswa Nagarajan (Flute).
What: Arangetram of Pooja Prasad
When: Saturday, April 26 at 530 pm
Where: Ray Freedman Arts Centre,
Silver Road, Epsom, Auckland
1. An endurance test for Pooja Prasad
2. Arangetram marks an exciting phase for Pooja Prasad