But once my eye lingered on Ms. Govindarajoo, it kept singling her out, even when she took a supporting role in groups. Just an advancing phrase of footwork with alternating in/out arm gestures became captivating with her. In extremes, either of vivid rhythm or sculptural positions, she is spellbinding, with sharply percussive feet, wonderful plasticity and stillness, and a riveting facial beauty. Tiny inflections of the shoulders and head made her movement more complete than that of others. This is a dancer who casts the spell of the Odissi form by the fullness with which she performs it.
– By ALASTAIR MACAULAY The New York Times
Configurations has also undergone a gender change. Originally created for an all-female cast, it is now danced by a quartet in which Rathimalar Govindarajoo is the only woman and the impact of this new balance appears to give the work an even greater physical force.
– By Graham Watts of DanceTabs
And different centres of gravity—the small powerhouse Rathimalar Govindarajoo close to the ground; Sooraj Subramaniam’s elongated arms and height lifting him towards the sky—which Jeyasingh uses to advantage.
– By Vera Liber of British Theatre Guide
There comes a beautiful moment between two dancers – Govindarajoo backing away from an advancing partner – in which each step is tentative, as if unplanned despite its perfect synchronisation with the rhythm of the score. The freshness and vivacity that the dancers bring to their performance makes this piece addictively watchable.
– By Catherine Sutherland of Backtrack
Rathimalar worked with her colleague dancers of Sutra. Therefore it was obvious that they all had a rapport and better understanding of what Rathimalar wanted from them to translate her concepts. The work left a strong impression. However I must confess that it is not easy to grasp in contemporary dance creations, what is being staged and presented.
– By Dr Sunil Kothari
And then there’s Rathimalar Govindarajoo, who has returned to dance with Sutra in the last few years, after five years in London with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company. Being Rathi’s close friend, I sometimes forget how virtuosic she can be. In the piece ‘Ashta Shambu’, depicting the attributes of Shiva and eulogising His triumphs, the audience was in no doubt that they were in the presence of a seasoned performer. Rathi is proficient in varied roles, but she particularly shines in the gruesome and bloodthirsty Shiva dances, when she accesses a great sense of darkness and power. When, as Shiva, she looses an arrow from her bow, it is a full-bodied gut-wrenching movement. She stomps upon her enemies, and claims her kills – you can almost see the corpses piled up around her. Then, as the worshiper, her pivoting turns with arms raised above her head, fists opening and closing, are distinct from the other dancers in her épaulement, spine and shoulders spiralling in ecstatic fervour.
– By Bilqis Hijjas
At its centre is Rathimalar Govindarajoo, who periodically launches herself into spirited percussive solos that hammer against the confines of the stage. Around her, the rest of the cast ebb and flow in a series of sociable dance conversations, occasionally breaking off their tilted teasing duets to catch the flight path of the swerving and emotionally intent Govindarajoo.
– By Judith Mackrell of The Guardian
DEPUTY FASHION EDITOR
1. Tell us a bit about your dance background. What was your passion as a dancer when you first started?
Please refer to my portfolio, below I have attached a PDF file for your reference.
2. What kind of dancing are you involved in?
I am trained in Bharathanatyam, Odissi, Ballet and Contemporary.
3. Who has been your biggest influence so far, in dancing as well as fashion?
My influences come from varied artistes. I’ve worked with such talented Gurus, Choreographers, Dancers and even Actors. I cannot deny that they have all influenced me in some distinctive way; not only in Dance alone but in my entire life altogether! Though, I myself am not a high-fashion person who dwells in famous brands. First and foremost I can’t afford them and moreover I prefer clothes that are affordable, comfortable, more durable and easier to clean. I love cotton; especially when in response to the environment and the people. I believe clothes are just outer layers of an image. Unfortunately, we are constantly being judged by how we dress. Honestly, I’m comfortable with my shorts, baby T and fit flops (especially in this Malaysian weather). Why should it really matter?! Comfort is priority, and it is important to just know how to carry ourselves well in whatever we choose to wear.
4. What dance means to you?
Dance to me is not just an art form of expressing oneself; but rather a sport where it involves dedication, hard work and requires so much of perseverance. Dancers who strive making Dance a career are athletes of God because it is the world’s most challenging path!
5. Have fashion affect on how you dress during performance?
I have had the privilege to work with outstanding costume/fashion designers during my contracts/projects with major dance companies; some big names such as Ursula Bombshell (UK), Bernard Chandran, Melinda Looi who all created beautiful costumes for dance. It is crucial that Dance costumes not only flatter a dancers body and lines in movement but also fit to the choreographer’s theme of their piece. It is a very difficult process and usually costumes are made accordance to the very detail of texture, colour, emotion and design; and it is done within the boundaries of the choreographer/director and even the set and lighting designers theme to ensure that all elements of the overall production and design work together. Whereas Dancers are like models that bring the costumes to life in their dance!
6. Has the fashion moment influence your dance routine?
If the costume is made specifically to enhance a dancer’s movement, then it is necessary to have the costume flow well with movements. For example; to depict water, fire, and earth – costumes may be tailored specifically to their characters/elements, and movements will definitely be influenced by the fabric, colour, and design of the costume.
7. What qualities do you think are required to be in this industry?
Selfless, humane and humble
Cooperative, egoless and ethical
Being true to one’s art… Being completely genuine!
8. How important is your costume for dance routine?
I personally like costumes that do not disrupt the movements of my choreography/dance. It needs to feel comfortable and easy. However, if a piece is required to project a certain style and theme, then it is up to the dancer to make the costume work for them. A well thought costume, set, lighting, make-up and choreography/direction makes a successful production/show, none of these can be taken for granted. It is immensely crucial!
She came very close to that unimaginable life earlier this year when she broke her arm while lifting a dancer during a rehearsal for River Sutra.
“I’ve never broken a limb in my life,” Rathimalar says. “That was my worst dancing injury and I thought to myself, ok this is the end.”
It wasn’t. Her arm healed “miraculously” in two months but the fear of another injury now looms large. Which is why after 2½ decades of touring the country and foreign shores, her sole regret is letting a university education slip – By Stephanie Sta Maria