The Place Prize is a prestigious biennial choreography competition; the 2006 finals took place in London on September 30 at The Place, a major British center for contemporary dance. Twenty UK-based choreographers were commissioned to create 15-minute dance works, from which five finalists were selected by a a panel of judges chosen from across the arts, including musician Brian Eno.
In Rajarani's piece, four male dancers and four musicians in business dress convey the hustle and bustle of modern life in London using the classical Indian dance form bharata natyam.
Commenting on Rajarani's work, the judges said, "This work of unstoppable energy places bharata natyam firmly in the world of London business. A dance work with something new to say about how the world is today, it is a clear winner of The Place Prize 2006."
Judith Mackrell, dance critic of London's The Guardian, which compares The Place Prize to the Turner Prize (the British prize for contemporary art) writes that Rajarani links the "speed and glitter of the Indian dance to the frenetic pace of modern life. Yet by splicing the dancing with laddish grooming rituals and an uneasy joshing, she also evokes something touching and vulnerable about the men themselves."
Rajarani, 36, is one of the UK's best bharata natyam dancers, according to The Guardian, and combines touring with her company Srishti with teaching classical Indian dance in southern England.
The judging panel for The Place Prize 2006 was chaired by John Ashford, theatre director of The Place, and also included performance artist and festival director Robyn Archer; dance dramaturg and producer Guy Cools; Brian Eno; independent arts producer Rose Fenton; and artist Chris Ofili.
The competition is open to anyone based in the UK who is professionally involved with dance. Each commissioned artist received Ô£5,000 and studio space to work on his/her project.