Arangetram: Neha Bhat


Photos: Amitava Sarkar

HOUSTON: Neha Bhat, a lively, sixteen year old gave Arangetram, her first formal solo of Bharatnatyam, (the Indian classical dance) performance at the Berry Center Theater, Cypress Texas on July 23, in the presence of an enthusiastic audience consisting of family and friends. Arangetram is performed by a student on completion of the basic training called a Margam or path. It is considered to be an important stepping stone in the study of this treasured art form.

Neha’s journey as a dancer began at the age of seven. From learning her first adavus at Abhinaya School of Dance under the artistic guidance of her Guru, Indrani Pathasarathy to graduating to her solo performance over nine years. Through those years Neha has performed at numerous events and venues such as the Houston International festival, India Independence Day festival at George R Brown Center, the local Hindu temples, Janmasthami celebrations and Abhinaya School’s Rasaanubhava recitals.

The Arangetram was inaugurated with Ananda Narthana Ganpathy, an invocatory dance in praise of Lord Ganesha. Neha performed Jathiswaram – a dance that combines complex rhythmic sequences of movements in groupings of jatis, which is performed to swara, passages in a particular raga (melodic scale) and tala.

Followed by a beautiful rendition of Keerthanam, a dance in praise of Parashakthi, the consort of Lord Shiva. Neha elaborated on Mashisura, a demon who changes his form at will between human and buffalo. The dance concluded in a powerful enactment of Goddess Durga annihilating the demon.


Neha then performed centerpiece of the program sequence – Varnam. The most intricate and challenging of all dances in the Bharathanatyam repertoire. The audience was enthralled by Neha’s superb balance between Nritya, pure dance and Abhinaya, facial expressions.

In Krishna Nee Begane baaro, Neha showed her prowess in facial expressions and her grace through the various detailed movements. The dance was absolutely delightful.

Nuances of Neha’s expression and elegant movement in “Shree Ramachandra krupalu bhajaman” brought the scenes of Sita’s wedding to Lord Rama to life. Her depiction of the encounter between Surpanakha (the sister of the demons Khara and Dooshana) Laxmana was brilliant.

The highlight of the Arangetram was Thilana. A lively item of pure nritya, in which specialized rhythmic syllables are sung to the melody, and repeated by the singer. Neha presented an expert elaboration of the music; and Bhoomi Mangalam by offering prayers and seeking blessings from Lord Nataraja and her Guru Indrani Parthasarthiy.

As Neha concluded her magnificent performance, the audience rose to their feet and the packed auditorium resonated with their clapping in heartfelt appreciation!

Neha’s interests: Neha is an accomplished musician and has been learning Hindustani music on harmonium for 5 years. She has performed her dance and music at the Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, India Music Society and several community musical events. She is passionate about Colorguard and has been a member of her varsity team from her freshman year. Her team has won several contests and are current Regional Champions in the WGI circuit. Neha established the psychology club at her school with her teacher Mrs. Sandlin. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars. Neha aspires to pursue a career in the medical field.