the-south-asian.com FEBRUARY 2002
FEBRUARY 2002 Contents
'My Secret of
at Every Alien Door'
Fashion & Jewellery
THE KUCHIPUDI FAMILY
Raja Reddy and his two wives, Radha and Kaushalya
celebrate their silver jubilee in teaching Kuchipudi dance to hundreds of
Today as they celebrate their
silver jubilee of promoting Kuchipudi the three can look back with
satisfaction that they have brought the dance form on the cultural map of
India. Not just India, Kuchipudi is recognized world over due to the efforts
of this unique family.
Apart, from the family ties that
these three share, another common factor that binds them together is their
devotion and dedication to the classical dance form.
It was dance that brought his child bride, Radha to him, despite initial
parental opposition. And it was
dance that united him with Kaushalya, the younger sister of Radha and also
his second wife. Raja Reddy
says, "I loved dance, and so did Radha.
It was I who taught her Kuchipudi and soon we were giving
performances." Raja was
also Kaushalya's guru, and when guru and shishya wished to marry, Radha gave
them her ready blessing.
Among the Reddy family the harmony is more spontaneous.
Raja laughs, "Kaushalya is the Nattuvangam [conductor] for us
when Radha and I perform. And when Kaushalya performs solo on stage I am the
Nattuvangam. Of course I
choreograph most of our performances, but tips are always welcome."
“ In the Reddy household,” Kaushalya jokes, " We cannot talk
to Raja about anything except dance. He doesn’t care about anything else,
but Radha and I are like any normal two sisters.”
The Reddys' two daughters Yamini and Bhavna aged 17 and 9
respectively are already excellent dancers.
In fact the Reddys frequently receive requests for the whole family
to be on stage together. But
cautions Kaushalya, " We try not to force them into anything.
They are young and must choose their own course in life.
However both are attracted to dance, and they cannot stay without
practicing for a couple of hours a day.
Sometimes they even give suggestions on a particular choreography or
action. But for now we would
like them to concentrate on their studies."
While Raja Reddy teaches them tandava,
elements of Kuchipudi dance (strongly masculine movements), Radha and
Kaushlya Reddy teach the lasya or the feminine moments, both of which
form an integral part of this dance. Being exponents in their respective
fields helps them to impart complete training in all finer nuances of
Kuchipudi dance which is more a character-based than an event-based dance.
Traditionally performed by males,
Kuchipudi has now start attracting women as well. In fact now there are many
performances solely by women where they even do the roles of the males. Most
of the performances are based on stories from the Pauranas, Mahabharata and
other religious epics. Most of the dance stories are told primarily with the
help of facial expressions.
And his students have over the
years maintained the illustrious name of their Guru. Shanta Mishra,
Ulla Mattusek, and Prithvi Joshi, have excelled in Kuchipudi -
all belong to well to do families and took up Kuchipudi for the love
of the art form and the name and reputation of the Reddys.
“Students form the core of my
teaching, when I teach I have full confidence in them that they will be
excellent dancers, sometimes to boost their morale I dance alongside them in
concerts”, says Raja Reddy.
One of their cherished projects is
the work that they do for handicapped children. Recently some of the
disabled children taught by them gave a scintillating performance in the
presence of the President of India, which received a standing ovation from
the dignitaries present at the occasion.
As for the future, the Reddys plan
to start a residential academy for Kuchipudi dance in Delhi’s Saket
area where they have been allotted land. The institution would be modelled
on the lines of a Gurukul and would even welcome foreign students. The
Reddys receive a number of enquiries from abroad and can be credited for
spreading the appeal of this complex art form beyond the shores of India.
Apart from imparting training to
handicapped children, the Reddys love performing with their students. “
The ultimate compliment for us is when we perform with our students in front
of an appreciative audience,” says Raja Reddy who is now planning for the
next 25 years of spreading this
unique art form among young people.”
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