(Excerpt from an article in SRUTI - April 2004 issue)
.... Rajee Narayan is a senior Bharatanatyam teacher and her institution, Nritya Geethanjali is well known. She is a composer also with an abiding interest in music. She did not speak at the seminar. Her approach is so true to tradition that it has sometimes been labeled 'provincial'. While she recognises that rhythm is important in the overall effect of dance, she uses it in moderation. Not very enthusiastic about lengthy jati-s even in the varnam and tillana, though she has composed a complicated jati in Mattiya tala, she finds long jati-s tire the dancer and the accompanist. What rhythm there is should be relevant, and to her, gender-friendly. For instance, choreographing the phrase 'Sivakami aada' she would rely on Lasya movements, whereas if it were about Siva, she would use forceful movements. She has found a gender difference in the choreography in that women teachers place greater emphasis on abhinaya, and men on technique and rhythm.
In Rajee Narayan's view, choreography must be suited to the dancer's abilities and strong points. In a group, roles must be assigned to suit individual abilities. The theme would depend on the venue and expected audience. In a temple, bhakti should be the rasa and the effect, one of self-absorption, but in an auditorium, many rasa-s will need to be depicted and outwardly communicated.
In this teacher's strongly expressed view, traditions must be adhered to and sastra-s respected. Children growing up in today's society need to understand the historical relevance of tradition in order to understand values of classical arts.
April 2004. Sruti.