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...
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