Younger daughter and disciple of legendary dancing couple Padma Bhushans Dr. Raja Radha and Dr. Kaushalya Reddy, Los Angeles based Bhavana Reddy is one of India’s internationally acclaimed Kuchipudi dancers. On December 7th and 14th, 2019, Bhavana will be performing at the prestigious Walt Disney Concert Hall alongside the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in their production of Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’. This will be the first time a Kuchipudi dancer will perform at this celebrated hall. Awareness of Kuchipudi has instigated the opening of Natya Tarangini’s Kuchipudi Dance Center in Los Angeles, California. Neha Kirpal caught up with Bhavana Reddy and she talked in detail about what to look forward to in her upcoming production and the new dance center.

Please tell our readers more about the production, Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ that you’ll be a part of at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on the 7th and 14th of December.

I am performing as the lead and choreographing a Kuchipudi classical dance for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra’s production of Stravinsky’s’ Rite of Spring’. On LA Phil’s project, I am working with lead Los Angeles choreographer Kitty McNamee. She is choreographing modern contemporary dance for six LA-based dancers who will be accompanying me. This show will be staged with a hundred-piece orchestra at the prestigious Walt Disney Concert Hall on December 7th and 14th, 2019 as part of their Toyota Symphonies for Youth program.

Give us more details about the production and its choreography.

Stravinsky’s revolutionary vision of primitive Russia caused a riot in its Paris premiere and changed music forever with its emphasis on the pulse-pounding power of rhythm. Dancers will help illuminate this extraordinary composition. Using the language of modern contemporary ballet and folk dance, Kitty Mcnamee has shaped the piece while I will be starring as its lead performer to bring the colour and vibrancy of Kuchipudi classical dance choreography into the symphony. I will play the ‘sage’, the wise woman of the tribe who enlightens the villagers about the wonders of the earth, its five elements—bhoomi (earth), apah (fire), nalo (water), nilo (wind) and nabha (sky). She teaches children to respect their elders and honor nature. Using mime, melodic gestures and complex rhythmic patterns, she embodies the elements and tells a story through the language of Kuchipudi. I will be accompanied by modern dancers Angelica Dewitt, Sasha Rivero Justin Porter, William Mayo, Derek Scheisel and Russel Ridgeway.

Give our readers more information about the new Natya Tarangini Kuchipudi Dance Centre in Los Angeles, CA where Kuchipudi training will be extended.

Natya Tarangini endeavors to conduct ‘pop up’ and master classes throughout America where children can learn Kuchipudi dance from beginner to advanced levels under the Reddy family. Workshops will also be offered with exchange programs at the Natya Taringini headquarters in Saket, New Delhi, which will culminate in a dance recital for students at the school’s very own amphitheater. Natya Taringini’s centre at Saket, New Delhi is also well equipped with a hostel, guest rooms for lecturers and studios. I myself have been teaching since I was a teenager and running two branches for the Natya Taringini in Delhi.

Give us some more details about how the classes will be conducted.

At the Natya Taringini, we believe in the Gurukul system of guru shishya parampara and impart knowledge to our disciples directly. Natya Tarangini’s vision for its students is to ‘learn to dance and dance to learn’. We teach Kuchipudi in a systemized and holistic manner, including the body conditioning, the theoretical and the practical aspects of dance and the music that goes along with it. We also believe in teaching students ourselves. I will be conducting the classes in Los Angeles and my parents visit yearly. 

Raja Radha Reddy’s students have a long standing reputation of world-class excellence and our students are exposed to the stage from the very first year of training. Students with continuous dedication and excellence will receive the opportunity to perform with the family in concerts worldwide as well as to learn choreography. I would advise those interested in learning to kindly contact me or the Natya Taringini staff on our website for information on upcoming classes.

Tell our readers about what you are working on next—on both the Kuchipudi and music front.

Currently, I am working on a Kuchipudi dance drama project with Kitty McNamee and Vivek Maddala in Los Angeles. I have been researching the concept for a major part of this year and will reveal more details about it in the near future. My sister, Yamini, and I are preparing for a tour in Denmark in February next year and a lot of smaller projects are brewing. On the music front, I am hoping to release some of my unreleased songs and new songs that I have been working on between my dance escapades in 2020. 

Neha Kirpal is a freelance writer based in New Delhi. She is the author of ‘Wanderlust for the Soul,’ an e-book collection of short stories based on travel in different parts of the world. 

Neha Kirpal is a freelance writer based in Delhi. She has worked for over a decade in print, television, and online media. Her diverse interests in the culture beat include books, music, travel, films,...