Rajashree Warrier has been a household name among Malayalis for more than a decade. After anchoring a popular breakfast show in a leading Malayalam channel, one fine day, she just disappeared from telly. Off she went to pursue her research in music – Varnas in dual forms, Tana Varnas and Pada Varnas. On World Dance Day, she reached Thrissur to perform her new Bharatanatyam dance composition, Nattumozhi, at the Regional Theatre where a four-day dance festival is on. Her performance is on May Day.
Usually, what one normally sees in Bharatanatyam is either Tamil or Telugu keerthanas being sung in a highly modernised or civilised manner. But over the past few years, Rajashree has been seriously thinking of bringing a change in this by coming out with a highly reformed form. Thus, she came up with Nattumozhi, comprising regional or rather colloquial terms, which the audience would be able to instantly understand in its simple form. She is all excited when she says that the entire repertoire will have only one or two performances lasting close to two hours. Even though the conversation was over the phone, her excitement was audible as she recalled the hard work and dedication she had put in for Nattumozhi. Rajashree is not systematic when it comes to conceiving a new dance composition. She would scribble her thoughts somewhere and keep re-working on them in her mind. The Nattumozhi performance in Thrissur is a solo one, which will be as per Bhagothi Chinthu in spoken language. She doesn’t prefer to do a group performance.
Dancer Rajashree Warrier will perform her new Bharatanatyam composition, Nattumozhi, which incorporates colloquial terms, as part of World Dance Day festival.
Rajashree runs a dance school, Uttarika, Centre for Performing Arts, which gives emphasis on research and training in Bharatanatyam, carnatic music and experimental theatre. But like other dance schools, Rajashree doesn’t churn out students overnight. She allows her students to have arangetram (debut performance) only after seven years of intense training. It is during the summer holidays that the state witnesses a mushrooming of summer schools where a dance period will also be squeezed in. She vouches that she is not keen to train dance students overnight. It is quality that matters, says the pretty danseuse.
Rajashree says that every time she comes up with a new composition, she gets restless until she performs in front of the audience. For her, doing solo performances is easier than leading an entire team. She makes it a point not to repeat the same performance as there will be a sea change in her performance from the basic level. There will be lots of improvisation, says the dancer. She is one Bharatanatyam dancer who gives due credit to her team as she feels that the dancer and the accompaniments should complement each other. Rajashree does improvisation while on stage, too, which is a challenge to her team comprising Dr. Sreedev Rajagopal, who is on the vocals, Neelamperoor Suresh Kumar, who is on nattuvangam, V. Soundararajan, who is on veena, and Kalamandalam Sreerang, who is on mridangam.
“It is like a give-and-take policy where my dance team incorporates my ideas into their music. When it comes to Bharatanatyam attire, my idea is that it has to be simple, but elegant,” says Rajashree, who has been serving as an executive member of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi since April 2016.
Rajashree has been performing Bharatanatyam across the state and abroad. She feels that after Tamil Nadu, her home state witnesses the most number of dance performances. But she says with a tad bit disappointment that the media has not been regularly covering dance performances. At the same time, she admits that she is poor in public relations work as she prefers to keep a low profile. She quickly adds that somehow, all her performances have been hugely appreciated. “However, I am happy that there is a regular set of dance viewers who would never want to see any kind of compromises on the quality of dance,” she wraps up....