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“Arpan” – A Charity Show by Children for Children

May 2006
“Arpan” – A Charity Show by Children for Children

The story of "Arpan: An Offering," began last summer, when Kanya Manoj volunteered to talk about sanitation to the children of the Vengal village. She was appalled by the plight of the local school which lacked a working, usable toilet. Kanya along with the senior students of Nritya Sankalpa organized a charity dance program to benefit the village. After tedious preparation for a year, the event was held on April 8th at the Meadowcreek High School.

Savitha Vishwanathan, distinguished Bharatanatyam dancer from the Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts, and the Founder/Director of Nritya Sankalpa, played a key role in "Arpan" with her unflinching commitment and creative talent in choreography of the pieces offered. Senior students Pooja Rajeevan, Poorna Rajeevan, Madhumita Govindarajan, Ahalya Prabhakar, Shivani Lalloo, Rohini Ramaswamy, Maya Ramachandran, and Kanya Manoj strived hard towards the success of the show.

Before the commencement of the official program, two short videos (both done by amateurs) were shown; one that portrayed life in Vengal in a way that mere words could never paint, and the other, a heart warming collage of scenes from the very first day of preparation and planning of "Arpan".

The performance, which included all the components of the traditional Bharatanatyam margam (repertoire), also had several items that deviated from the normal routine. Twenty-two students of Nritya Sankalpa participated in an item titled "Korvai". Also included in the program were the Kurathiattom (a folk dance), and Ghoomar (a Rajasthani folk dance). Vaishnava Janato, performed by Paulomi Pandit was in particular an apt choice for inclusion in "Arpan" as the lyrics refer to one who feels the suffering of others and who helps the needy. Another unique item was the Billie Holiday hit "Love me or Leave me" which served as a perfect illustration of the universality of art.

The piece-de-resistance of the performance was "Arpanam", an item that captured in vivid little vignettes the entire sequence of events that culminated in the staging of "Arpan: An Offering". Set to fusion music composed by Ganesh, Kumaresh and Tariq Qureshi, the dance commenced with a mother narrating the story of a poor rural school to her child. Moved by the plight of these students, young children living on the other side of the world put on a charity show, to raise money for simple necessities needed by the rural school.

The concluding piece "Samarpanam" rendered by Subhashini Krishnamurthy, and performed by Savitha Vishwanathan and Paulomi Pandit was an offering to God – one who embodies compassion and feelings of well-being towards mankind. All in all, "Arpan" was an incredible offering by the children; aesthetically pleasing to the Atlanta audience and financially helpful to the students of Vengal School.

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