Asian Music and Dance

Nina & Yadavan

Bharatanatyam dancer Nina Rajarani and musician Y Yadavan are collaborators at work and partners at home. Their successful joint project ‘Quick’ won the prestigious Place Prize in 2006, and was followed by their marriage and a baby in 2007.

Nina Rajarani

When I first met Yadavan seven years ago, I was convinced he wouldn’t be able to sing! My regular singer had to cancel and she sent Yadavan as a replacement but he didn’t even look like a singer, in fact he had come to the UK to study accountancy. Then at the rehearsal he sang so beautifully, I was gobsmacked. 

We started spending a lot of time together when Yadavan composed his first piece for me and also because we would watch a lot of shows together. We became good friends and love developed along the way. Those around us realised how we felt even before we did. We started hearing rumours about ourselves!

According to me, Yadavan is the best singer in the world and I don’t think I am biased. Yadavan is very talented – far more than he realises. He comes from a very creative background. Everyone in his extended family, and he has a huge family, is connected with music or dance. 

Yadavan is creative without being organised about it. I am very demanding and he probably finds that harder work rather than the actual composing. I am very critical of him because I have high expectations from him. 

“While I have to take care of the management side, Yadavan gets to concentrate on the creative, fun work.”

At the beginning, I was his boss but now we are more like collaborators. However, while I have to take care of the management side, Yadavan gets to concentrate on the creative, fun work – I am very jealous of him for that.

As the artistic director of a company, I have had to train myself to think that I can’t rely on anybody, that nobody I work with is indispensable. But now I am able to think of it as ‘Yadavan and me’ – I can rely on him. And that’s made my artistic work stronger. It’s a huge advantage for a dancer to have a composer 24 hours at their disposal and artistically, we make an incomparable team. 

Our being together was definitely a positive factor in the creation of our prize-winning piece ‘Quick’. Working on the piece and winning the award was a great moment for us – that’s when we realised we were meant to be together.

Yadavan has changed a lot since the baby has arrived. He has become more of a family man, more like what I wanted him to be. It has really united us as a family. Today I can’t separate the musician from the family man.

Y Yadavan

The day I met Nina, I knew she was a very organised person – unlike most other artists I knew! She was not haphazard in her working and very clear about everyone’s roles – I found this very stunning.

A lot of artists in our dance company are from India – a male-dominated society. So many of the male artists find it difficult to take instructions from Nina. But I soon realised that Nina was the person with the overall artistic view, of not just the choreography and music but also all the peripheral issues. Nina is a born leader.

“Our personal relationship gives us an edge in the overall product – two plus two is five, in our case.”

As a performer, Nina’s dance is flawless. She knows how to capture the audience. Her performance is well planned but she also understands the pulse of the audience and is able to adapt to it. I enjoy singing for professional dancers, and with Nina this enjoyment is even more enhanced. I also feel that our personal relationship gives us an edge in the overall product – two plus two is five, in our case. 

Nina is the person who made me a composer, otherwise I wouldn’t have known I have such capability. She can analyse a person by talking to them for five minutes and can find out their abilities. When I composed the first piece for her I didn’t quite understand her expectations. But by the time we created ‘Quick’, the understanding had developed and it didn’t take much time to compose the piece, which won the first prize.

In fact, Nina is very ambitious and only knows the number one! Nothing she does is half-hearted, whether in dance or at home. Today we are even more bonded because of the baby and our happiness is reflected in our work.



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