Doing What’s Best for Kids

Westwood Student Showcases Dedication and Passion in Traditional Indian Dance Recital

Posted on: General News

(Fort McMurray, AB - June 24th, 2023) Nishka Rai, a Bharatanatyam dancer and student from Westwood Community High School, captivated audiences with her Arangetram Recital at Fort McMurray’s first-ever East Indian Classical Dance Arangetram Recital on Sunday, June 11th, 2023. It was a performance that left the audience spellbound.

The Arangetram is a significant milestone for Bharatanatyam students as it marks their formal solo recital after years of rigorous training; Bharatanatyam is an Indian classical dance art form with various ‘banis’ or traditions. These dance techniques and styles are specific to a teacher or school and are often named for their place of origin.

Nishka, who started her dance journey at age three, performed the recital with grace and elegance for two-and-a-half hours to the sound of accompanying live artists and constant cheers and encouragement from a large crowd. Her exemplary performance captivated the audience, and she received a plaque recognizing excellence in the Bharatanatyam art form.

The recital began with Pushpanjali, a traditional invocation dance where dancers seek blessings from their Guru, Hindu gods, and the audience. The audience was rapt by the beauty and grace with which she presented flowers as a gesture of respect, invoking divine blessings for a successful performance. Nishka then performed “Bhaje Mrudanga”, a beautiful composition that praised the Hindu God Ganesha and showcased her footwork.

The most challenging part of the recital was “Varnam”, a piece that tests the dancer’s years of practice and stamina; it is the centrepiece of the recital, lasting nearly 30 minutes. During “Varnam”, Nishka was tasked with portraying nine states of emotions as described in the Natyashastra, the oldest Indian scripture on performance arts.

Following “Varnam”, Nishka performed “Bho Shambo” and ‘Bhagyada Lakshmi’, traditional devotional pieces demonstrating the mastery of the Bharatanatyam art form. The recital ended with Nishka performing a devotional dance piece called “Krishna Bhajan” alongside her mother, followed by “Mangalam,” a brief finale in which performers express gratitude to God, their guru, and the audience for their support and the successful completion of the recital.

In her speech, Nishka thanked her guru, the orchestra team, her parents, and dance friends for their support. She reflected on her journey in Bharatanatyam, expressing her initial hesitation to embrace the art form but ultimately discovering a deep appreciation for its rich traditional values, unique costumes, and intricate jewellery.

“When I started this art form, I was almost embarrassed about embracing its rich traditional values, unique costumes, and intricate jewellery. It seemed vastly different from what everyone else was doing. But now, I cannot imagine life without Bharatnatyam. The depth and beauty of this art form have captured my heart, and I love to share this art form with the community. In the future, I hope to acquire a deeper understanding of this art form and pass it on to the next generation.”

Nishka’s dance performance at the East Indian Classical Dance Arangetram Recital was a testament to her years of dedication and passion for the Bharatanatyam art form. She proved herself a skilled and mature dancer, leaving the audience in awe of her expressive art form.

Congratulations Nishka!


For additional information, contact:

Momin Syed                                                           
Communications Coordinator
Fort McMurray Public School Division