(Last Updated on : 28/07/2014)
Throughout the world, Rajika Puri is an applauded advocator of two forms of Indian classical dance Bharata Natyam and Odissi. All over Europe, the United States, Latin America, and India, she has performed both the style in solo recital. Her career got its highlighting point with her commanding performances for the president of Mexico.
In the year 1986, under the direction of Julie Taymor, when she was cast as 'Narrator/the goddess Kali' in Lincoln Center Theater's The Transposed Heads, her career geared up. On the western stage, she has also managed to build a unique career.
Rajika Puri since her childhood has been trained in classical Indian dance and music. Her guru Sikkil Guru Ramaswamy Pillai has initiated her to the traditional art form Bharata Natyam. She got her training in Odissi dance under the able tutelage of Deba Prasad Das. Rajika Puri has also studied western music (the voice and piano), American Modern Dance (at the Graham & Cunningham studios in New York), and Flamenco apart form the Indian traditional art form. In the year 1983, she did an MA in The Anthropology of Human Movement from New York University. She did her specialization in 'how meaning is made through movements such as the hand gesture (hasta mudra) system of classical Indian theatre'.
Rajika Puri has written articles in journals like Semiotica. Her writings ranges from academic papers to previews of dance performances in Playbill. Some of her articles to name are: Tribute to dancer who is an 'embodiment of perfection'; MALAVIKA SARUKKAI: a quintessential performer of Indian classical dance; Eva Yerbabuena, and Company at the Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, 9-14 July, 2002; Bhimani's Broadway debut in 'Metamorphoses'; Good filmmaking, box-office success can go hand in hand; Shradhanjali: A 3-day Festival in Tribute to Odissi Genius, Guru Deba Prasad Das; Flamenco Natyam: A Mosaic of Flamenco and Indian Classical Dance; The Sacred River: a Festival of Carnatic Music, its dance, and Flamenco.
For over twenty years, Rajika Puri is based in New York. In the year 1992, Rajika moved to Mumbai, (Bombay) for six years. She was enlivened by artistic surroundings. This milieu eventually led to the encouragement of new directions in the domain of performing arts. One of her landmark project of the year 1998 was 'Flamenco Natyam'. It was a blend of Flamenco with Bharata Natyam and it was demonstrated at the Works & Process series of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. 'Flamenco Natyam' got a rave appreciation. Other theatres performed by Rajika Puri are: MACBETH: First Weird Sister (under the direction of Ron Daniels); THE BACCHAE: Woman of the East (directed by Liviu Ciulei); PHAEDRA BRITANNICA (directed by Carey Perloff); CYMBELINE: The Soothsayer (directed by JoAnne Akalaitis); A DREAM PLAY: Daughter of Indra(directed by Alan Mokler); THE MERCHANT OF VENICE: Portia (directed by Tony Patel); ROMEO & JULIET: Lady Capulet(directed by Vikram Kapadia); Scenes from THE BACCAE: Dionysus(directed by Zubin Driver) and ELEKTRA: Electra(directed by Jiten Merchant).
Some of the noted dance theatre performed by her are: Sutradhar (directed by Deborah Dunthorn)-- (Traditional Narrator - in guise of gypsy story-teller); The New York Ramayana: Narrator (produced by Lotus Fine Arts production) -- (weaving story told in Indian, Burmese & Filipino dance); Neel: the eternal blue: Sutradhari (staged by Joyce Soho & Trinayan Collective) -- (dancer-singer Narrator, in an Odissi dance recital). Rajika Puri has also playacted in films namely: Mississippi Masala, Longtime Companion, Split Wide Open and The Great New Wonderful.
Rajika Puri is currently involved in the projects, which include four areas. Each and every area focuses as much on music as on dance, like, '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'.