New York based Bharatanatyam dancer, Sringara Mayuri Sandhya Rajkumar, disciple of AG Narthana, is back in the mecca of cultural arts, Chennai, to premiere her mythological Nrithya Natakam, Urmilayanam, Ramayana in the eyes of Urmila, on Sunday, 30 July 2023 at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore, Chennai from 6pm onwards. Speaking exclusively to Natyahasini, Sandhya Rajkumar reveals that the Natya Drama on Urmila is based on Ramayana and a book written by PV Rajakumar. “The Natya drama revolves around the main character Urmila depicting her agony, separation, and onus through Bharatanatyam. The Natya drama is directed and choreographed by me and the music is composed by Mullaivasal Chandra Mouli,” she says.
Sharing details about the author, Rajakumar, Sandhya says that the author is known for showcasing the stories of unsung heroines of epic novels, one such is Urmila. “The soul of the Natya drama is Ramayana in the eyes of Urmila. Rajakumar sir apart from being a novelist is a poet who has been writing since the early 90s and is also a retired Southern Railways officer,” says the dancer.
Sandhya further says that apart from her there are 17 more dancers. Some of them are – Vaishnavi, Jhanani, Varsha Shinde, Shivadarshini, Hema, Hima, Kaushika, Vaishnavi Iyer, Smriti, Bhargavi, Meenakshi, Lakshanya, Pooja … “Smt. Chitrambari, Shri Tyagarajan, Selvi Preethi Sethuraman, Dr. G Chandramouli have lent their voices, while the instrumental support is by Dr. G Chandramouli (Violin), G.R.S. Murthy (Veena) Venkataramana (Flute), K R Venkatasubramaniam (Mridangam) and stage Special effects are by Rajagopal,” says the artist.
Currently, Sandhya Rajkumar is pursuing her Masters in Architecture at Pratt institute, New York, after attaining her graduate degree from Annamalai University. Taking a step back into her dance journey, Sandhya says: “I have been pursuing dance since the age of four years and I performed my arangetram in the year 2012 under my Guru A.G. Narthana.” Alongside her academics, Sandhya pursued B.F.A. Bharatanatyam in Annamalai University with Guru Dr. Sumathi. Also, she learnt nattuvangam from Dr. Sujatha.
To stay in touch with the art form. Away from her home Chennai, presently, Sandhya has built a small team that works to put up videos on Instagram and YouTube in the name “sandhyarajkumar”. “During Covid, I started social media as my key to perform and showcase creativity,” she says, and adds: “In New York, we have a small community of passionate Bharatanatyam dancers, and we come together to practice adavus every week.”