One Bharatanatyam Arangetram and a Dead Wide-Angle
Yesterday, I went to my friend Dhivya’s bharatanatyam arangetram, her graduation dance performance. Excited for an opportunity to capture this beautiful event on film, I took my Minolta as well as my 35mm lens. I thought it was the perfect choice: not quite a standard, but not too wide for my flash. But when I took the lens cover off and looked through the viewfinder, the focus was off somehow. I tried to focus at the stage (clearly more than 20 feet away), but I couldn’t despite the fact that I had set the lens to focus “at infinity.” It was most bizarre. I pointed the camera at audience members to try to figure out what was going on, and nothing more than five feet away from me came into focus. I snapped a few out-of-focus shots, just to see how they’d come out, and then sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the show.
I had never been to an Indian dance performance, and as I talked to different people during intermission, I gathered that this particular recital was a very traditional one. There were live musicians who had flown from Bangalore, India to be a part of this arangetram. Dhivya changed multiple times during the show, from one many-layered elaborate costume to another (the emcee’s told us that there was literally an assembly line of mothers trying to get her changed as quickly as possible), each one as beautiful as the next. Everything about the performance was beautiful: the music, the clothes, the stage design, the lighting, the dancing, and most of all, Dhivya.
It was followed by a dinner, which consisted of delicious vegetarian Indian food that hit all areas of your palate with the sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy dishes. And although I left that night with a terrible MSG-induced headache, it was so fabulous that even a migraine couldn’t tarnish my memory of Dhivya’s bharatanatyam arangetram.
Looking back, the only thing I regret is not getting it on film. I guess it’s goodbye to my 35mm lens, the bright wide-angle that I have come to know and love.