Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bharatanatyam arangetram planning...

Arangetram Planning

I am writing this exactly after a month of my daughter's arangetram. Arangetram is a milestone in the dancer’s and parent’s life which requires a lot of planning. In our case the community and friends were extremely helpfull and all I had to do was to assign the responsibility to my friends. On the day of the arangetram, the only thing I did was walking around and watching things happen. 

Here is the basic planning idea. The timings are approximate and may vary depending upon the teacher, student and the place you live.
About a year before the Arangetram
As a parent, the first thing you want to do is to discuss with the dance guru to know if your child is ready. The readiness for Arangetram depends on the dancer. Some may be ready in 6 years and some may not be ready even after 10 years. A parent may think the child is ready to do it, but you need the teachers view on this definitely.
Have an idea of which month is appropriate to have the Arangetram. Plan to avoid exam time, SAT, ACT or PSAT etc.. vacation time, Major Indian festival times etc…
Think about the music. Discuss with your child and teacher if you need live orchestra or recorded music. If live orchestra is the choice, contact the musicians for a date and shop around. Please visit http://www.dancecostumesandjewelry.com/arangetram/ to get more details about other aspects of live orchestra.
Discuss with teacher about Jewelry and costume types, number of costumes changes etc..Generally two costume changes are fine.
Have a rough estimate on number of guests you are planning to invite.
Based on number of guests, contact local auditoriums and recital halls. Also make sure the orchestra is ok for that time.
Ask around for good photographers and video graphers and shop around. Since you have one year, you can get bargains ! Even though you have one professional video grapher and photographer, please ask couple of your friends to take video and picture. I planned everything, but missed on this part. Please plan on this and I am sure, your friends will be happy to help you.
Think of a time and plan about food depending upon the timings. Ask around friends about food vendors.
If the dancer does not have appropriate dance Jewelry, plan to buy it. 
If you are planning to have chief guests and guest of honor for the arangetram, think of some names and even talk to them about their availability.
About six  Months before Arangetram
Should have signed the contract with the orchestra and the auditorium.
Should have confirmed the chief guests if you were planning on one. 
Plan on costumes. You can buy sarees for the dress. But stitch it only 5 months before the program and get it before the photo shoot. Most young dancers grow and you don’t want to make the arangetram costume a year ago.
Order items for stage and front entrance decoration, if you are planning to do decorations.
If you plan to give gifts, this is a good time to order them
Plan on invitation – Electronic or print. Either case you have to start design it now.
Confirm photographer and videographer
Set a date for photoshoot

3 Months before Arangetram
Should have photos from photo shoot.
Should have confirmed the tickets and travel plan of chief guests
Should have confirmed the staying arrangements of the arangetram orchestra members.
Talk to close friends and families and assign them decoration and food area volunteering works.
Design of the invitation should be started now with pictures,  Orchestra ensemble and chief guests names.
Think about an MC for the program
Talk to the decorating person/contractor.
You should have jewelry, ankle bells and all the make-up accessories.
Complete the guest list.
Send the invitations with RSVP option.
RSVP should be mandated 15 days before the program date.
Sit with the food vendor and get the estimate.
One month before the Arangetram
Buy all the plates, silverware, napkins, glasses, cups etc…
Work on the onstage decoration statues/idols etc..You can borrow them from friends.
Setup a meeting with the theater/auditorium staff and talk about audio and lighting. Use professionals for these two. DO NOT use volunteer friends.
Finalize the arrangement of the dining area.
Collect/buy/order online all items for the arangetram stage decoration and front entrance decoration
Talk to the MC and write the flow of the program and verify it with teacher.
Print and frame the blow up pictures of the dancer if you are planning to do so
Make sure the raiser for the arangetram artists to sit is available in the auditorium. If not, plan to rent one.
2  weeks before the Arangetram
Once again talk to the decoration volunteers and contractors
Make a checklist of everything needed back stage
Make a checklist for everything need for food are
Make a checklist for everything need for the green room
Write all  speeches and  discuss them with teacher and MC
All the lamps and vilakkus need to be Polished
You should have closed the RSVP by now. Call the food vendor and tell the final count
 1 week before the Arangetram
Purchase water, drinks etc…
Order floral arrangements, plants, and floral bouquets.
Remind light and sound people, video and still photographers about rehearsals
Make sure your Iron costumes, check jewelry, ankle bells etc….
Do a rehearsal with live orchestra, 2 days before the program
The previous day of Arangetram
Transport the plates, spoons, napkins etc… and keep them in the dining hall area.
Transport lamps, flowers, pictures and other decoration items and keep them in place.
Have the tables for reception, greeting card box, sweet boxes etc…ready
Finish stage decoration as much as possible
Transport the raiser for the artists to sit and place it on the stage and decorate it.
Keep the chairs for the chief guests near the curtains
Keep two tables ready behind the curtains. One for dancer’s towel, water, juice, touch-up items etc.. and the other for keeping the gifts for the chief guests and artists.
Make sure the podium is decorated.
Keep the Nataraja statue and Vinayaga statue on stage.
Call the food vendor and remind him about the event timings etc. This is very important. I had two food vendors. One of them, who was bringing the tea and vada, came 1 hr late. I told him to be there at 3:30pm because the program was to start at 4:30. He came exactly at 4:30 !!! The program was delayed even though the dancer and orchestra was ready !
Transport water bottles and drink bottles and keep them in the dining area.
The day of Arangetram
Finish stage, foyer and dining hall decorations
Sweep the stage after everyone finished
Call volunteer heads and ask them to arrive at the venue 3 Hrs before the program
 Five hours before
Start the make-up
Start the costume
Give clear instructions to volunteers and assures
Give the audio engineers and musicians enough time to tune the system and equipment. Do a trial run.
Call the before program snacks/tea vendor
Call the volunteers who are driving chief guest and make sure everything is ok...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Printing invitation for Bharatanatyam Arangetram !

As we are writing this blog, me and my wife are proof reading my daughter's Bharatanatyam arangetram invitation. I can't even believe that I am writing a blog now. But then, there is  no better time. If I don't write now, I probably won't write it ever because, as soon as we get the invitations printed, we will have to start mailing it, then we will have to start arranging other things for the arangetram and will get busier and busier...

I have designed and printed many brochures, event tickets, program guides and flyers as part of my volunteering work with many associations in and around Indianapolis. Usually, once we decide a program, the committee members will collect some pictures of the artists and I use publisher to put together the text and pictures. One or two committee members proof read it and suggest some design changes and then we will send to OfficeMax or Kinko's and we are done. All will be finished in a day or two.

But the Arangetram invitations is nothing close to it. We were waiting till last week to get the photo shoot done for the picture for  invitation. By the way, photo shoot is another hurdle. Please read my blog on photo shoot to see what happened on that day and what you should or shouldn't do during photo shoot.

Back to invitations - first, come up with a budget. Most of us think printing in India is cheaper. Not true. My friend printed 200 cards for about 18000 Rupees and then paid extra to ship it here. About 2 dollars including the shipping for a 2 sided 8x6 inch card with envelope. Well, there is nothing other than name and address on the envelope. This is offset printing job though - the best quality print you can get for these type of jobs. Here in Carmel, we asked quote from two printers for 350 cards. One from PIP and another from my friend who owns a big printing business. PIP quoted about 600 dollars for a folded 4 page design with 10x7 inch card with digital print. The end product will be a folded invitation with 4 pages, each pages being 5X7 inch size. My friend quoted about the same price for offset printing for the same. Probably the best price one can get in USA. Both quotes included about 2 hrs of design time, provided we give all photos and art work etc...Obviously I went with my friend as it was offset printing and the price was cheaper. This worked out to about 1.75 per card for a larger card with offset. Most of the print jobs you get now a days are digital print outputs. Digital means high quality laser printers. These are cheaper and quicker, but the quality and originality of the color is incomparable with offset printing. Also since the paper or/card is being heated during the digital printing, when you fold, the ink will give way and card break at the folding line, resulting in a very bad appearance. Offset print will not do this to the card.

Selecting the background color, text color, border color and matching them with the envelop color is a time consuming process. Thanks to my wife and dance teacher - they have much better sense of color than me. Make sure the content is readable and clear. Main content is the names of dancer, guru and the event date, venue and time. Make sure to add the RSVP email or phone number. We had designed in an RSVP functionality to my daughter's website and so it worked out fine. If you do not like boxed gifts, please say so in the invitation. Also if you are going to donate the proceedings to some charity, tell that also in the card. Also specify the start and end of the program - this will help your friends to plan that day correctly.

If you are planning for any chief guests, please start talking to them at least 6 months before the arangetram. They are busy people and their calendar gets filled very quickly. We are exactly 3 months away from the Arangetram.  We started talking to dignitaries about 3 months ago and and just finalized now. This helped us to put their names in the invitation.

Make sure you have the dance costume and dance jewelry for the photo shoot. Another thing learned is about the background of the picture during photo shoot. Mostly black is good for pictures for brochure and invitation. But if you are planning for different backgrounds in your brochure, try to take some of the pictures with white background also.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bharatanatyam - Lord Shiva's Dance

Bharatanatyam finds its origins interlocked with classical Indian dance that mimics one of the basic five elements of life. Which when performed is a hypnotizing dance that resembles a flame, to honor Lord Shiva-supreme lord of dance. Traditional dance jewelry worn during the Bharatanatyam dance is known as temple jewelry, which was originally made from gold with rubies, emeralds and pearls. Used by the Devadasi girls as they danced in the temples to honor Lord Shiva original dance.

Artisans created theses authentic masterpieces for centuries in the southern part of India. Even today people revere and covet temple jewelry for its unique beauty and craftsmanship.  Bharatanatyam temple jewelry, combine with the silk multi-functional costume, which becomes enhanced with bells that allow each foot gesture to have a voice. Which seduces and captivates the audience in a mystic trance, As the performer goes through the motions of the dance the costume flows with them. Stimulating the audiences eyes with broad colors, while using body language and hand gestures to portray the ritual dance.

Originally, temple jewelry beautified the gods and goddesses in the temples during the 9th century. Later, women of the South India adopted a liking for the jewelry, which terpsichorean use in their routine to pay respect to their heritage.

There are 10 jewelry pieces that make up the set to do a Bharatanatyam dance: Choker, Long Chain, Mattal, Nath, Bullakku, Ottiyanam, Jimikki, Bangels, Rakkodi, Chandran/Sooryan and Nethichutty. A beginner can get by with a head set, necklace, and belts.  Every piece of the Bharatanatyam performer is essential to the routine even the performers hair dressed with a Chandra (moon shaped) and Surya (sun shaped) ornaments.

The Saree skirt style or Pyjama style which have gold Zari embroidery designs on the skirt. Open when the dancer performs a special posture known as a arai mandi (half-sitting) and muzhu mandi (full sitting). Ever aspect of the beautiful performance ties together giving the audience a breathtaking display meant for a king or god.