Sulochana Rajendran traces the development of 'Nritya Geethanjali', an institution of dance and music which celebrated its silver jubilee recently.

Nritya Geethanjali, an institution of dance and music has made long strides and carved a niche for itself in the cultural map of this metropolis. To its founder-director, Guru Smt. Rajee Narayan it was not an easy march ahead. The 'fighter-achiever' that she is, well equipped in technique and trends of arts and with a zest for facelifts and innovations coupled with imagination and intelligence, Rajee persevered and succeeded in her pursuits, adding to her role while at the same time she strengthened the institution in various aspects of the performing art.

The silver jubilee of Nritya Geethanjali celebrated on August 29 at the Nehru Centre, would speak volumes of the toil and truimph of the Guru who is not merely a revered teacher but an affectionate 'aunty' to the multitude of her students. The spirit of dedication and discipline, the eclat of participation that she has instilled into her students were evident from the smooth and orderly flow of the celebrations. Everything was fine tuned, even the tiny tots with eager anticipation were gracefully quiet, not letting out even a whisper! And on the stage we had a cameo of dances, a variety of presentations, some purely traditional adhering to classical tenets, a few action songs by beginners, a couple of mini ballet by seniors, a Nama Kirtan reminiscing the bhajana tradition and a tight kit Tillana plus a 'Pinnal Kolattam' that is something more than a mere folk pastime - all these from the family heirloom.

All this speaks for the artistic family that Rajee hails from and her own achievements as a composer, besides being a musician, dancer, dance guru, choreographer and conductor all rolled into one. Right from her infancy she has been exposed to the world of art. She was born into a house of Iyal-Isai-Natakam (Literature, music, dance-drama). Her parents, sisters and brothers - eleven of them - were all talented and displayed it in one field or the other. More than this they pursued their chosen fields. Little wonder that the youngest of them, Rajee turned more versatile having been showered with blessings and knowledge from the elders in her family.

Availing of the opportunities as well as of intense training under teachers of eminence, Rajee emerged as a performer - teacher; and adding her own imagination and creative impulse she has taken her dream come true 'Nritya Geethanjali' to its 25th milestone.

That Rajee's work, 'Nritya Geetha Mala' is a cherished treasure goes without saying. It contains guidelines not only to Nattuvangam but to choreography too with notes and notations in three languages. There is a Tala variety, Nayika variations, invocatory shaityas and intricate pure dance numbers like Jatiswaram and Tillana. The Varnams leave a colourful aura both in scope of sancharis and stances of rhythm. It is also a musicians pleasure as mere musical rendering evokes the bhava fused in its lyrics and musical setting. A few of them presented at the silver Jubilee Fete deserve mention.

"Paripaalayamam Sri Sambho Mahadeva" in soothing strains of Suddha Dhanyasi had the right blend of Tandava and Lasya, which uphold the concept of Ardhanareeswara.

"Velane Mukkannan Aruliya Baalane" (Ragamalika) was an apt choice for a mini ballet both in solo and multi character presentation. Made into a costume ballet, it captured the attention of many in the audience who were not familiar with the southern story line. Typical of the northern scenario was Krishna leela, depicting the eternal love of Radha and Krishna not before entangling them in a lovers' tiff. While Radha's agony, anger and final surrender were all familiar Nayika presentation Krishna's viraha, pining for Radha was imaginatively touched upon and finely etched. The whole musical setting in Hindustani melodies not only revealed environmental perceptivity but also clothed the lyrics in Hindi. Special mention must be made of the renderings by the vocalists with the Guru leading, more particularly Rajee's niece Neeraja who stood for her voice blend.

The specially composed Tillana a 'Raga-Tala-Gatimalika' much in line with Balamuralikrishna's creations, had its own novelty, attraction and was performed with alacrity.

Presided over by Nana Chudasama, that champion of Service organisations, the programme was an eye filling event.

Sept. 05, 1990. Free Press Journal