Yamini Reddy, 32, daughter of renowned Kuchipudi dancers Raja and Radha Reddy, talks about her passion for the dance form. She runs the Natya Tarangini Institute in Hyderabad.
What do you think of the Andhra Pradesh government’s plans to revive Kuchipudi in a big way?
It’s a welcome step because we need more artistes and professionals in the field of Kuchipudi. Bharatanatyam is more unified and widespread. Odissi too has picked up because the Orissa government is promoting artistes in a big way. I hope the Telangana government too promotes Kuchipudi because boundaries can be divided but not our culture. In the field of Kuchipudi, we need more standards, more practice and quality. Today, many people learn for a few months and start performing or even teaching.
Can purity of form be maintained only by experienced gurus?
My parents learnt from Guru Prahlad Sarma who was very strict about purity of technique. Every adugu (step) should be according to rhythm. Personally, I am very strict about abhyasa. I practice for a minimum of two hours a day just to maintain fitness which can stretch to 5-6 hours if I have a performance. People tell me I am a powerful performer, energetic and dynamic. They have praised my Shiva’s dance, which is my father’s special area.
What’s the best age to start learning Kuchipudi?
It is best if children start learning at a young age (five-plus) so that they can imbibe better. But there is no age barrier. People can take it up at any age if they want to learn for the love of Kuchipudi. That way they develop an appreciation for the dance. I would want my son Arjun (now 3) to at least learn the basics of dance. Later on, he can decide if he wants to be a professional dancer or not. I started learning at the age of three by copying my parents. But my father was strict about my learning and my rangapravesam happened only at the age of 20.
How was it like learning from such legends like Raja and Radha Reddy?
My mom and dad are one unit. They are two halves of a whole. They are Rama-Sita, Krishna-Radha, Shiva-Parvathi. I personally liked learning from my father because I am his pet. Mentally, we are very attuned and he does not impose his likes and dislikes. I have too many fights with my mom who says something like, “Oh, you are always like this” and then we start squabbling. My sister, Bhavana, connects with her quirkiness better. But my mother always gives valuable inputs when dad misses something. In that way, my father and both my moms (Radha and Kaushalya Reddy) have been great teachers.