About Ghirija Jayarraj

I am an Indian Classical Dancer

who was blessed to have done my Arangetram in Chidambaram Nadaraja Temple in 1998.I specialized in Bharathanatyam for over three decades under many teachers including Madurai R Muralidaran (Chennai) , Smt Bhavany Shivakumar (Australia), Girish Panicker (Singapore Fine Arts ) and presently Urmila Sathyanarayana (Chennai). My mother and the biggest dance guru, Dr. Shaantha Jeyaraj, taught me how to love dance unconditionally. Her school, Palkalaikkalanjiyem, in Western Australia showed me the joy of teaching Bharathanatyam between 1998 – 2004. I learned Odissi under Temple of Fine Arts in Western Australia for five years. After which I have continued Odissi under Monica Singh in the past year, in Melbourne Australia, where I reside and work
as an Internal Auditor / Risk Analyst for an MNC.

Delving into understanding dance lead me to researching the History of India Classical Dance. A chat in Thanjavur with Dr Gnaana Kulendran who was the former professor at Tamil University in Thanjavur and her book “Music and Dance in the Thanjavur Big Temple” was a catalyst to my journey in uncovering stories around Indian Classical dance. My search for knowledge only grew in time.
While in London, although in the center of modernism, I met many talented Indian Classical Dancers of all races. I was intrigued by how far this art form had travelled and began documenting its journey i.e. the journeys of the dancers that carried it forward. I did this through another medium of expression that I am well versed in.

I am a Film maker
Having accidentally made Australia’s first Tamil short film, Paddikal (Stepping Stone), with a cast of around 60 people in 1999 and being an Honours Student of Screen Arts in Western Australia’s Curtin University, I began specialising in Directing and Producing. I went on to make several short films and documentaries. So it was a matter of time before I combined my mediums and Film became the canvas in which I painted my journey through Dance.

The process of interviewing dancers in London also inspired me to understand the British-Asian migrant culture and the evolution and spread of the Indian Diaspora and its culture. Being a migrant myself this has always been a topic of Interest. It is but a quest for self definition. Indian Classical Dance which is practiced as a form of Identity in the Diaspora reflected this well. Upon discovering this aspect, I started to trace Indian Classical Dance from its current being through to its roots. This was also a journey further my understanding of my traditions, culture, my ancestors and my roots, through my dance. As a traveler, I discovered the joy in not only learning but also sharing this knowledge.

I utilised my Film Production company in Melbourne, Australia, Rajsha Productions, to collect material for a YouTube channel, which is now up and running as Shastram TV. I am happy to have discovered that Shastram TV’s viewers can be found as far as Mexico. I have also gone on to experiment with Filming Indian Classical dance and trying to share it in a new light to a whole new audience.

My quest to share this knowledge has only expanded. Although Shastram has had an internet presence for many years and work surrounding it began decades ago, it is recently that Shastram has reached one of the main hubs of Indian classical dance, Chennai. I am introducing this initiative to many through a Theatre Show in Chennai, “Something to Say”.

I am a Theatre Producer and Curator.I was involved in theatre productions for over 20 years in Australia. I choreographed my first dance drama in 1998 with a cast of 40 people. I staged my first production in 2005 which was an experimental stage and film fusion piece based on Indian Classical dance and the research I had conducted. I believe in providing a platform for up and coming talent so their art may grow and spread. I also believe in putting on an entertaining show which gets messages across.

“Something to Say” to say is such a creation. It is true to my style of fusing my mediums of expression, i.e. a fusion between stage and screen, discussing social issues, culture and tradition through Indian Classical Dance with performances and exhibitions by exciting new and experienced talent.

Shastram has been my ultimate venture and the name I’ve given to an amalgamation of all of my ideas, experience and Training. It is the initiative I’ve taken with the help of many to enrich the society around us with the knowledge passed down from centuries ago. Join me as I journey through dance. Shastram’s avatars will be many…

I am a lover of art.
Ghirija Jayarraj
Creative Director

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