Arangetram is the debut (Arangettam - அரங்கேற்றம் in Tamil, അരങ്ങേറ്റം in Malayalam) on-stage performance of a former student of Indian classical dance and music. This first performance follows years of training. Many Indian classical dance forms perform an arangettam once the time has come for a disciple. In Tamil and Malayalam, Arangu means stage and Ettam means rising or climbing.
The word arangetram is from the Tamil language and means ascending the stage by a dancer on the completion of formal training. The dancer can now move forward and pass on the art form to other aspiring learners of the art. To perform an arangetram is an old tradition, which marks the pathway for a dancer to then perform alone or be able to give training to other dancers. Once a dancer has completed training he or she should have an understanding of classical music and the many aspects of dancing.
In newer times, Arangetrams have become popular in the US and Europe. Some evolve into lavish affairs rather than a celebration of the art. Like other activities that children pursue, Arangetrams have been criticised for creating peer pressure. Although Arangetrams used to be meant for students with intensive training (close to eight years) with an intent to pursue the art, many now use it for self gratification.
In Tamil Arangam means a stage and etram means rising or climbing, thus arangetram literally means climbing the stage or reaching the stage. It refers to the graduation ceremony where the guru presents his or her pupil to the public. It traces its origins to the devdasi (temple dancer) tradition. Arangetram can be done for other Indian classical dance styles such as Kathak, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Kathakali, Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam and vocal and instruments like Mridangam, ghatam, and violin.
- Arangetram (dance debut) in Bharathanatyam: a rite of passage for the court and temple dancers of India, by Hira Harish Panth. State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1993.