RAJIKA PURI is an internationally acclaimed exponent of two forms of Indian
classical dance - Bharata Natyam and Odissi - which she performs in solo recital
all over Europe, the United States, Latin America, and India. Career highlights
include a command performance for the President of Mexico.
Since 1986, when she was cast as 'Narrator/the goddess Kali' in Lincoln Center
Theater's The Transposed Heads, directed by Julie Taymor, she has also had a unique
career on the western stage, often bringing to her roles the
richness of the Indian theatre tradition she was initially trained in.
Based in New York for over twenty years, Rajika moved to Mumbai, (Bombay) for six
years in 1992 and was inspired by an artistic milieu that encouraged new directions
in the performing arts. A landmark project of 1998 was Flamenco Natyam, a blend
of Flamenco with Bharata Natyam, presented at the Works & Process series of the
Guggenheim Museum in New York, and then on tour in India.
Trained since childhood in classical Indian dance and music - her Bharata Natyam
guru was Sikkil Guru Ramaswamy Pillai, her Odissi Gurukul is
that of Deba Prasad Das - Rajika has also studied western music (the voice and piano),
American Modern Dance (at the Graham & Cunningham studios in New York), and Flamenco.
In 1983 she received an MA in The Anthropology of Human Movement from New York
University, specializing in how meaning is made through movements such as the
hand gesture (hasta mudra) system of classical Indian theatre.
Writings and articles range from academic papers in
journals like Semiotica to previews of
dance performances in Playbill, and magazine features on dance from a cultural perspective.
Current projects involve four areas - all of which focus as
much on music as on dance:
Please click here to see Rajika's resume.
Adding a visual dimension to south Indian classical music (Carnatic music)
by improvising Bharata Natyam movement during a music recital;
Developing music that interweaves Carnatic music with flamenco, in furtherance of
the Flamenco Natyam venture;
Bringing a modern aesthetic to experimental choreography in Bharata Natyam;
Lectures on relationships between Indian dance, and music, sculpture, mythology,
poetry, and painting - illustrated with slides, story-telling, and excerpts from dances.