SEVENS: Interview with Nina Rajarani
SEVENS, a new triple bill by Srishti, begins its nationwide tour this month.
‘Through bharatanatyam and kathak, and originally composed live music, SEVENS will explore the sacred, and sometimes sinful, significance of the number seven.’ (Srishti)
Nina, could you tell us how you arrived at the concept of SEVENS? Was it a flash of inspiration or a considered choice?
A few years ago as part of an R&D project I created a piece on saptapadi (seven steps), which is an important rite in the Hindu marriage ceremony, where with each step, the couple make a promise to each other. I chose to create a piece on this topic because of the beauty, the simplicity and timelessness of these vows. Also, because to my surprise, they had no religious connotations. On the contrary, they were practical vows that could be applicable to any two people entering a committed relationship, and could belong to any era, to any race or religion. This is a short twenty-minute piece and we haven't toured it. Yes, making that piece was a flash of inspiration. I then made a considered choice to create a triple bill of work to include this piece that would be tour-worthy and decided to have the overall theme of ‘seven’. Thus the project SEVENS emerged.
You are working with an ensemble that includes the two styles of bharatanatyam and kathak, as you did in your dance film Srishti Squared. Should we expect this as a new trend?
I have done several collaborations with kathak over my 30 year career, most of which were duet works. I really love bringing together these two styles and have a particular affinity for kathak. Srishti Squared was my first ensemble work with the two styles and that inspired the cast for SEVENS. Yes, I do think this will be the new Srishti trend –watch this space!
How does it feel to be playing opposite your husband Yadavan in the duet of taking marriage vows – the meeting of real life and performance?
Ah! Two extremes – it can be totally blissful or an utter torture, depending on whether we have had a fight or not! There are so many joys of the intimacy that this relationship brings as we have so much to share through our work together, and Yadavan is my pillar of strength. However, when you are working so intensely together all day long for several weeks as we have been doing, and then you go home and are again together, the work follows you there too - the good things and the bad things!
How does it feel to be touring again post the Covid lockdown?
I am so excited! We haven't yet started touring, but just being in rehearsal again with artists has been truly exhilarating. We have production time leading up to our première at Playbox Theatre in Warwick so will be there for a whole week. The whole company is so looking forward to being away and officially on tour next week.
Give us three good reasons why audiences should come to see the production of SEVENS?
1) They will experience excellent quality dancing and music by artists who have put their heart and soul into creating this new triple bill.
2) It will give them a huge variety of experiences – be it the array of emotions, technical brilliance, dance styles or musical styles.
3) Srishti is working with new collaborators (Shammi Pithia, Sandhya Raman and Chris Cuthbert), who are bringing a breath of fresh air to the work.
Music: Y Yadavan and Shammi Pithia (composers and performers) with Vijay Venkat.
Dancers: Shyam Dattani, Abirami Eswar, Divya Ravi, Sankari Mridha / Jahnavi Sheth.
Costumes: Sandhya Raman (Delhi).
Lighting: Chris Cuthbert .
The tour opens on 14 October in Warwick. SEVENS will be performed in Bradford, Bournemouth, Nottingham, London, Birmingham, Bradford on Avon and Wolverhampton.