Nina Rajarani MBE- Artistic Director, Choreographer and Dancer
Nina Rajarani MBE carried out her Bharatanatyam training under Prakash Yadagudde at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's London branch, during which time she also had additional training with Chitra Visweswaran of Chennai, India, during her visits to London. Nina was awarded Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Diploma in Bharatanatyam in 1986, and in 1987 she staged her Arangetram under her guru Prakash Yadagudde. Since 1988 Nina has received training regularly in Chennai under Shanta and VP Dhananjayan. In 1989, the Arts Council of England in conjunction with ADiTi (at that time the national organisation for South Asian Dance in the UK) awarded Nina a scholarship to undergo an intensive training period with the Dhananjayans in Chennai. Nina's dance style today is unique in its assimilation of the best qualities from each of the different traditions followed by the gurus with whom she has trained.
Nina has also received Karnatic music vocal training under Sivasakti Sivanesan at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's London branch, and under Karpagam Balasubramanian in Chennai.
Over the years, Nina and her husband, vocalist and composer Y Yadavan, have together created several outstanding new works, providing a strong artistic team. Nina’s professional dance work has been performed extensively within the UK, in many European countries, in India, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the US and Canada.
In September 2006, Nina won the Place Prize, Europe's largest choreographic competition sponsored by Bloomberg. Out of 204 entries by choreographers, Nina was one of the chosen twenty commissioned to create a new dance piece. Her piece QUICK! won the competition with raving comments from the judges and the press. The winning piece was incorporated in Nina's work Quiet, Please! that toured nationally and internationally from February 2007. QUICK! toured again in Spring 2008 as part of the triple bill of Play Ball and continues to be performed at prestigious venues and festivals both nationally and internationally.
Nina has earned herself an admirable reputation as a teacher and has to her credit, a thriving school of dance based at the Harrow Arts Centre in Middlesex, since 1991. Her students pride themselves upon the high standard of dancing they aim to achieve.
Nina Rajarani has been closely involved in the devising of and regular revisions of a syllabus for Bharatanatyam with graded examinations. These examinations are being conducted by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) that runs examinations worldwide for various different dance styles including ballet, tap and so on for over a hundred years. Nina is a founder committee member of the ISTD’s Classical Indian Dance Faculty, has been the Secretary of the Faculty since it came into existence in 1999 until 2014, and has been a Bharatanatyam examiner for the ISTD since the examinations first took effect in 2001.
Nina Rajarani was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in the Queen's 2009 Birthday Honours, in recognition of her Services to South Asian Dance. The award, which recognises many years' work developing and raising the profile of South Asian dance, was announced in June 2009, and was presented at an official ceremony at Buckingham Palace in December 2009. The Queen's Birthday Honours are awarded each year in June, and pay tribute to outstanding achievement and service across the community.
In 2012, Nina was commissioned by Harrow Council to create a new dance work that was performed in the presence of Her Magesty the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee visit to Harrow.
Yadavan trained from a very young age in Sri Lanka under Sangeeta Bhooshanam S Balasingam and furthered his musical aspirations in Chennai, India, where he studied under the renowned Sangeetha Kalanidhi B Rajam Iyer. Yadavan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Indian music from Madras University, India, as well as a Diploma from the Music Academy of Chennai, for which he was awarded the “Sangeetha Rathna” title. He won the GNB Memorial Award for “The Best Male Vocalist” in the 1999 Music Academy annual competitions, and also broke records by being awarded as many as nine prizes in the same year.
Yadavan is a most sought after vocalist and has provided vocal accompaniment for many dance performances, as well as dance and mridangam arangetrams all over the world. He has been performing on a regular basis with various dance teachers based in the UK, Switzerland, France, Germany, Holland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, Canada and the US.
Since April 2002, Yadavan has been collaborating with his wife, Bharatanatyam dancer, teacher and choreographer, Nina Rajarani MBE, touring internationally with her professional dance company, SRISHTI - Nina Rajarani Dance Creations. In recent years, he has also been active in composing music scores for SRISHTI's new dance productions. In September 2006, Nina Rajarani’s piece “Quick!” was the winner of Europe’s largest choreographic competition, the Place Prize 2006, sponsored by Bloomberg. Yadavan composed the music for this piece as well as directed and performed in the musical team of this winning company.
Yadavan has been involved in all of SRISHTI's education initiatives nationally. In addition to this, he teaches Karnatic vocal music at Srishti’s dance school based at the Harrow Arts Centre as well as on an individual basis. Yadavan is well acquainted in teaching the music component of the Bharatanatyam syllabus of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD). He has also sung for the ISTD's Bharatanatyam audio resource for teachers.