Fifty years ago, a dancer from the south attracted a large number of young girls to her classes in a small rooom. She earned them the reputation of being a talented, top-class teacher. Her dance school, Nritya Geethanjali became a centre of cultural happenings.
Rajee Narayan was however, not quite happy teaching the same old compositions day after day. As a creative person, she saw immense possibilities of enlarging the scope of the enchanting classical dance - Bharat Natyam.
What she did was a landmark performance in the history of Bharat Natyam. She started composing new songs and wrote them all down - songs to go with the movements of all the dances in the Bharat Natyam repetoire - from 'Allaripu' to 'Thillana'. She must have taken great pains to finish the monumental work.
They are all now available in a book form. The first publication appeared 15 years ago. A new edition has just hit the stands. The name of the publication: 'Nritya Geeta Mala'.
There is a wealth of information, useful guidelines for the new dancer or teacher. It is all there from word to word - from movement to movement - in fixed symbols, easy to understand and follow.
And what is quite creditable, it is in three languages - English, Hindi and Tamil. An American in New York or a dancer in London can follow the script and learn Bharat Natyam. The publication is partly financed by Sangeet Natak Academy.
It is the best ever guide to learning Bharat Natyam.
No wonder Rajee Narayan has been recipient of universal praise for her outstanding work. In the second volume, the additional 31 songs are published.
Rajee Narayan: "I have taken, enough care to see that the 'raga' and 'tala' are in sync with the mood of the songs expressed by the lyrics. In the new 31 numbers, one 'jathiswaram', one 'sabdam', seven 'Varnam', three 'thillana', seven 'padam' on Bhakti Bhava', six 'padam on Nayika bhava', two 'padam' on 'Nayaka bhava' and one 'Mangalam'".
Finally, Rajee Narayan says: "I have done my work. It is now left to the Natyacharyas and performing artistes to utilise these songs to the fullest advantage."
May 25, 2000. AFTERNOON DESPATCH & COURIER