Everything that is unbound and endless has an aura of blue about it. Be it the sky, the sea, or love. When Rajashree Warrier talks thus about her dance piece ‘Neelavarnam - Krishna the Blue God,’ that got more than one lakh hits in two months on YouTube, one listens in awe.
“Blue as a metaphor of bliss augments the mystic experience that is Krishna. Krishna, an embodiment of joy that is sublime and eternal, is cast in the infinite blueness of eternity in this piece,” says the danseuse with her characteristic smile that television buffs are familiar with. Rajashree is thrilled that the 45-minute piece has been checked out by not just connoisseurs but the uninitiated too. “Many consider bharatanatyam a dance form that has more acrobatics and less bhavas and abhinaya. I’m glad that through ‘Neelavarnam’ I’ve been able to bring out the subtle aspects of the dance form and change such perceptions.” The DVD brought out by Invis Multimedia has seven other compositions besides ‘Neelavarnam’.
It’s unfair to limit Rajashree to being a danseuse. If dance is her passion, music is her obsession. She started learning music as a six-year-old under Mullamoodu Harihara Bhagavathar. Over the years she has been a student of stalwarts such as Perumbavoor G Ravindranath, Parassala B Ponnammal and B Sasikumar; she continues taking music lessons even today. “I was initiated into dance and music from a young age. From the start, I’ve been serious about both,” says Rajashree who learned the compositions of Dr M Balamurali Krishna from Aswathy Thirunal Rama Varma for ‘Neelavarnam’. She participated in music and dance competitions during her school and college days and won many prizes. The singer who has rendered music concerts in India and abroad recently sang a romantic number in an international album for composer Sunny Viswanath. “It was Sunny’s confidence that got a classical singer like me to croon a romantic song.”
Rajashree was the Kerala University youth festival winner in bharatanatyam and kuchipudi in 1991 and 1992. But she swears by her art that she never learnt dance and music for the sake of youth festivals. “It was at a later stage that I realised I’ve to grow beyond competitions. Art can never be restrained within limits and I’ve been striving to grow beyond them”.
Her date with anchoring began with ‘Vidyarthikalkku vendi’ on All India Radio during her school days. Soon she was presenting many music and dance shows on Doordarshan besides anchoring a number of programmes on art, tradition and culture. ‘Suprabhatham’ and ‘Paithruka Keralam’ on Asianet made her all the more popular. She quit the channel to pursue research in music but Rajashree can be seen on and off television presenting a handful of programmes. Though she holds a postgraduate diploma in journalism, Rajashree’s heart has always been in the arts.
The dancer was under the tutelage of Mythili teacher for 18 years and later Jayanthi Subramaniam before she stepped into choreography. “It’s been five years since I began choreographing dance shows in bharatanatyam. It has helped develop my creativity.” ‘I, Meera’ presented by her dance and music school ‘Nethra’ at the recently held Indian Science Congress, won rave reviews. Rajashree’s Meera is not the typical white-clad woman immersed in devotion for Lord Krishna. “Bhakthi is not a colourless state. Meera loves Krishna. A person who loves the blue-hued Krishna cannot be blind to colours. ‘I, Meera’ is a discovery of the real Meera.”
Rajashree wants to make her school ‘Nethra’ a research organisation. From school children (including her daughter Lavanya) to professionals, all the students are serious about the art they pursue, in the school that teaches carnatic vocal and bharatanatyam. “The style of tutoring at ‘Nethra’ is not youth festival oriented. One day it’ll grow to be an art lovers’ forum. The scenario in places like Chennai gives an artist due respect and ample opportunities for growth. Sadly it’s lacking here. Through ‘Nethra’, I’ll do my best to give promising artists a platform to further their growth.”