Student Prepares for Public Performance After Ten Years of Practice

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This coming Saturday evening, June 5, a local student from Mendon, New York will perform an ancient dance form at the School of the Arts in downtown Rochester, marking over a decade of training, practice, study and dedication.

Centuries ago in India, there were many priestesses at Hindu temples who dedicated their lives to worship. They would sing, dance and play a variety of musical instruments and they were well versed in Sanskrit and other languages. In the olden days, these women were not allowed to have families and they led a very strict life. They performed a dance known as Bharatanatyam, also called the fifth Veda. This is one of oldest and most complex classical dance forms in India. The dance originated in the South India state of Tamil Nadu and has its roots in the ancient manuscript called Natya Sastra authored in 4000BC. Bharatanatyam is accompanied by classical music and was inspired by the sculptures of the ancient temples. Today, it is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles and is practiced by many dancers all over the world. The Arangetram is a graduation performance, essentially a test for the dancer, as well as for the teacher. Both the teacher’s knowledge and the student’s talent are judged by the Public. Arangetram means "ascending the stage."It is the culmination of years of learning, dedication and discipline The Arangetram is performed only after many years, usually more than a decade of study and only when the teacher feels the student is ready. The performer wears a lot of jewelry, make-up, feet cymbals called Salangai and a specially stitched ornate costume. The performer must have the stamina of a marathon runner and the concentration and precision of an Olympic figure skater, as the performance lasts several hours divided into two parts.

The performer, Anisha Vellodi is a first generation Indian-American student from Rochester, N.Y. While born and raised in Rochester, Anisha has embraced her Indian heritage, proudly combining it with American traditions and defining her individuality through this culmination of cultures. This marks her maiden, solo performance in the ancient dance form of Bharatanatyam. Presently a senior at Pittsford Mendon High School, Anisha has been training in Bharatanatyam since she was eight. She has performed with The Bharata School of Dance and Music under the tutelage of her Guru, Parvatha Chidambaram. Learning Bharatanatyam, has given Anisha a chance to explore and understand the complexities and intricacies of Indian culture. In addition to her love for Bharatanatyam, Anisha is passionate about her involvement in Home of Hope, an orphanage for girls in Cochin, India. She has spent the past four summers tutoring the children and raising funds for various projects at the Home of Hope. Anisha is also involved with the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester.

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Dan Lang

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