What does a photo shoot have in common with a birthday?

They’re both one day dedicated solely to you!!!

So since this blog covers the full experience of doing an arangetram, I figured I should probably cover one of the most important stages, which is the photo shoot. So what is a photo shoot like? Well, it’s actually a lot of fun! Personally I found my photo shoot to be one of my most interesting life experiences yet. It was a little stressful, as I’m sure you can imagine, but I also got to pretend to be a celebrity for 3 hours! One of my most important takeaways was that collaboration is key here! Collaboration, bobby pins and safety pins – these are the 3 must haves for a photo shoot.

My photo shoot was March 5, 2016, and also the day before my birthday. I’d been practicing my poses for months in advance, so I knew exactly what I wanted to do. My teacher was with me for 2 out of the 3 costume changes. At the end we took family photos. The neat thing about the photo shoot was, of course, getting my pictures taken. The whole time, everyone, including my teacher and photographer, was super involved and constantly gave their suggestions for the next pose. It was pretty fast paced, and each idea inspired the next one, and so the idea generation process for poses was kind of like a ripple effect. One of the biggest things that came up was angling. Make sure you practice that in front of the mirror!

I spent the days before my photo shoot getting the henna done as well as facial prep. This last was a really bad idea because I ended up getting a rash all over my face! So definitely give your skin a week to recuperate from anything you decide to do for your photo shoot, especially if you have super sensitive skin like me.

The day of the photo shoot, I had a group class, then hair and then makeup. I was kind of tired by the time I actually had to get my pictures taken, but the energy in the room, with everyone coming up with ideas and trying new things was really amazing and enlivening.

My family decided to do our photo shoot in the media room, because it gets completely dark there and there’s room for lighting. That’s what most people do, in case you were wondering, but it isn’t essential – the photographer is flexible on that. We had a meeting about a month in advance to prep for the day, and that really helped us all a lot.

It probably doesn’t sound all that important, but after you’re ready, make sure you like how you look. Even if something super small is bothering you, don’t be afraid to fix or have someone help you fix it. In my case, some of the flowers weren’t showing up as well as I wanted them to, and just that little quick fix (we re-pinned them a little) made me feel a lot more beautiful and confident. It really made a difference, because that came across in my photos.

After literally every pose, either my teacher or my mom would fix a part of my jewelry or costume before my picture actually got taken. That really helped, because after doing poses, my jewelry would move or the fans wouldn’t open up right. I didn’t notice these small things, but they do affect the photos.

In the end I was really happy with my pictures! You will definitely love how yours come out too! At the beginning, especially during the planning stages it feels a bit stressful because you and everyone with you wants this to go well. But once the real thing starts, it isn’t stressful at all.

Ultimately this is a once in a lifetime kind of thing, so remember to relax and just have fun! No matter what, in the end things will work out great, and you’ll be super happy with your pictures. 🙂

The biggest challenge we had was finding a date and time that worked for me, my teacher and the photographer. With everyone’s busy schedule, it took some time to find the perfect date – often days that worked for 2 of us wouldn’t work for the third member, and so it took a couple weeks for us to settle on the right date and time.

One thing you should also know is that very few people actually do a photo shoot late at night. Most people do theirs in the morning or in the afternoon at the latest. In my case this was the only time that worked best for everyone. The time really doesn’t affect the pictures in any way. Since a dark space was required, it actually worked better to do a photo shoot in the evening, when everyone was available. Remember to plan as much as possible, but also be ready to improv some, as it is very rare in life that things go exactly as planned!

I hope my experience was interesting to read and perhaps even informative …

Please like, comment and share my blog as much as you can! If you have any questions, I would be more than happy to answer them! Don’t forget to RSVP either here or at my dance email: ritika.dance2016@gmail.com

Thanks for all your love and support!!!!


The Structure

Hi Everyone,

I apologize for how long it’s taken me to update you all with my next post! This last month has just been the craziest, with the schoolwork associated with the end of junior year and arangetram practice reaching a good notch higher. In this week’s post I’d like to discuss the structure of an arangetram, or at least the order in which pieces are taught, for those of you attending, interested or planning to do your own arangetram.

  1. Pushpanjali – This item is really meant to salute God, the teacher (guru) and the audience, as well as prep the dancer for the next couple hours.
  2. Alarippu – This item is usually pretty basic and is based more on movements than on facial expressions. Again, this preps the dancer for the more complex dances.
  3. Jathiswaram – This item is actually complicated. While the Alarippu is based only on syllables, this item is based on a raga (a pattern of notes having characteristic intervals, rhythms, and embellishments, used as a basis for improvisation) and has pretty interesting postures, rhythm and steps. Again, it doesn’t involve facial expressions.
  4. Shabdam – This is the first piece which has facial expressions. It is a combo of nritta (the rhythmic, dance component) and nritya (the abhinaya and facial expressions). It is usually slow, and has devotional lyrics, meaning it is usually about a specific deity.
  5. Varnam – This is the main event. This is the longest, and most difficult piece of the event which really showcases what the dancer can do. This generally tells a story, and has a lot of room both for nritta and nritya. There is a lot of flexibility on the theme and story, although it usually is about a deity.
  6. Padam – This piece is primarily based on facial expressions and storytelling, aka abhinaya. This piece is really about showing really deep and strong emotions, coupled with some nritta (but not a lot).
  7. Thillana – This is the last, and most energetic part of the dance, composed mostly of nritta. The steps in this are pretty complex and interesting. It can also have some nritya base to it. The part of it that really is supposed to stick out is the energy, and the dancer’s ability to do fast, complicated steps very gracefully. It is often even related as a burst of colors!

Of course, as per the guidance of a guru, there is a lot of room for flexibility here – although this is the basic structure, as done in our style.

I hope this has been a bit more insightful for you, into the world of Bharatanatyam. If you have any questions, or if there is something specific you would like me to cover, please let me know in the comments! I would be more than happy to share what I know!

Once again, thank you all so much for your support and love!

See you next week! 🙂