Dancer Geeta Chandran Presents Arangetram of Disciple RHEA MAHAJAN
Arangetram is an important occasion in the career of any Bharatanatyam dancer. After several years -- decades even -- of arduous training, when the Guru is confident that the disciple can sustain a solo performance, the Arangetram is announced.
The Arangetram thus is an honour to the Guru; a momentous rite of passage, it marks the first milestone in the disciple's journey into the ocean of Bharatanatyam.
The Shishya: RHEA MAHAJAN
Rhea has been learning the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam as a disciple of (Padamshri) Guru Geeta Chandran, for the past 12 years.
As a part of Natya Vriksha, Rhea has performed for various events including Sahitya Kala Parishad's Youth Festival; Abhyaas - to mark World Dance Day; and Durga Puja performances. She has also accompanied her Guru for SPIC MACAY lecture demonstrations at leading educational institutions.
As a student of Fr. Agnel School, New Delhi, Rhea participated in numerous cultural events and won many competitions. In 2008, Rhea visited the Royal West Academy in Canada as part of an Indo-Canadian exchange programme where she performed for Canadian audiences. She also won the "Principal's Commendation Award" for her outstanding performance in school.
Rhea pursued Commerce as her specialization at undergraduate level and secured admission into Gargi College, Delhi University via the ECA quota for classical dance.
As a member of the Indian Dance Society of her college, Rhea performed in several inter-college and national level festivals and has also choreographed dance society performances for various events. She has won several awards in the classical dance category at various colleges including Gargi College, Jesus & Mary College and IIT Kanpur. She won the 1st Prize at Janaki Devi Memorial College.
Having completed her graduation, from August 2017 onwards, Rhea is eagerly looking forward to working with Ernst and Young as an Assurance Associate. Of course, her tryst with Bharatanatyam will continue...
The Guru: (Padmashri) GEETA CHANDRAN
A celebrated artist and a star-performer, Geeta Chandran began learning Bharatanatyam from the tender age of 5 years under the tutelage of Smt. Swarna Saraswathy, who hailed from the traditional Thanjavoor dasi parampara. Subsequently, Geeta continued learning diverse aspects of the classical dance from a galaxy of eminent Gurus.
Today she is a renowned artist who has synthesised the knowledge she received from her Gurus to imprint Bharatanatyam with her personal vision of the dance. In her dance presentations Geeta Chandran skilfully weaves abstract notions of Joy, Beauty, Values, Aspirations, Myth and Spirituality.
A polymath artist, Geeta Chandran is celebrated not only for her deep and composite understanding of the art of Bharatanatyam, but also for her Carnatic music (she is a trained and accomplished vocalist), her work in television, video and film, theatre, choreography, dance education, dance activism and dance-issue journalism.
Geeta Chandran is Founder-President of her dance academy Natya-Vriksha in New Delhi. Natya Vriksha aims to make youth aware of the immense potential of Bharatanatyam to become a live voyage of learning. Through the dance, Geeta Chandran makes them comprehend the complex inter-linkages between the classical dance tradition and its strict grammar with other disciplines: Philosophy, Ritual, Religion, Myths, Ancient texts, Poetry, Literature, Art (Painting and Sculpture), Cultural Studies, Yoga, Handicrafts & Handlooms and Beauty & Aesthetics. Gender dynamics, gender equity and equality are integral to the pedagogy that Geeta has developed in her unique training module.
Geeta Chandran is also Artistic Director of the Natya Vriksha Dance Company, known for the high aesthetic quality of its group presentations that showcase Geeta's metier as a choreographer.
A rare combination of being both a luminary and a visionary, Geeta Chandran is a widely respected role model for the young generation. She guides reputed national cultural institutions and prestigious universities as their Board member, and she also serves on the Advisory Boards of several reputed schools and colleges and on several Boards and Empanelment and other Committees of the Government of India.
An influential spokesperson for classical dance, Geeta Chandran is the author of SO MANY JOURNEYS, an intensely personal collection of her writings narrating her engagement with Bharatanatyam. She also writes an insightful dance column in The New Indian Express/Sunday Standard, and uses her unique space on social media to promote issues relating to Indian performing arts.
Promoting Art in Education is her particular passion and she is committed to catalysing youth audiences everywhere on the values that classical dance brings to life and living.
In her effort to "en-dance the universe," she engages in a strategic range of dance-related activities: performing, teaching, conducting, singing, collaborating, organizing, writing and speaking to new youth audiences.
Geeta was awarded the prestigious national award -- Padma Shri -- by the President of India in 2007. She has also been conferred the equally prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 2016-17. In July Geeta Chandran was also conferred the Nirbhaya Puruskar.
In 2014-2015, she marked the completion of four decades of dedication to classical dance, since her arangetram in 1974. 2016 marked the silver jubilee celebrations of Natya Vriksha.
The Institution: NATYA VRIKSHA
Founded by the renowned classical dancer (Padmashri) Geeta Chandran, Natya Vriksha enshrines the best philosophies of Indian classical culture. Natya Vriksha aims to make youth aware of the immense potential of Bharatanatyam to become a live voyage of learning. Through the dance, Geeta Chandran makes them comprehend the complex inter-linkages between the classical dance tradition and its strict grammar with other disciplines: Philosophy, Ritual, Religion, Myths, Ancient texts, Poetry, Literature, Art (Painting and Sculpture), Cultural Studies, Yoga, Handicrafts & Handlooms and Beauty & Aesthetics.
The Natya Vriksha Dance Company is unique in that all dancers have been entirely trained in Bharatanatyam by (Padmashri) Geeta Chandran, who is Artistic Director of the Company. Since the dancers have grown up together, the level of trust and togetherness evident in the Company's choreographies, ensure a completely different emotional appeal. The Dance Company has forged a reputation for its crisp and mature group dance presentations. The Company has performed widely to rave reviews and has set high standards for group performances.
Natya Vriksha's vision statement seeks to probe the continuing relevance of classical tradition in a world of changing values. It showcases the aesthetics of Bharatanatyam and its history, how the tenets of the dance can be employed as a means of communicating issues of contemporary concern, even while exploring linkages between history and continuity, between external body and internal mind-space, between yesterday and tomorrow, between artist and audience............between roots and wings.
Photo credit: Inni Singh