Natya Tarangini International's 2nd Anniversary
- Manjari Sinha
July 18, 2022
Natya Tarangini, the Kuchipudi dance institution established in 1976 by the renowned Kuchipudi duo Drs. Raja-Radha Reddy in Delhi, has nurtured innumerable students over the past decades, including their first disciple and the leading exponent Kaushalya Reddy, the Artistic Director of the famed institution today. Their talented daughters Yamini and Bhavana Reddy are among some of their prominent disciples. Transmitting the authentic knowledge of this classical Indian dance form in traditional Guru Shishya Parampara, Yamini opened a branch in Hyderabad named Natya Tarangini Hyderabad and Bhavana, after shifting to California, USA, took it to foreign lands by establishing the Natya Tarangini International in 2020, teaching in person and online to students from different parts of the world.
Natya Tarangini International recently celebrated its 2nd Anniversary staging a two hour in-person concert by the students of Bhavana Reddy from across the world including the UK, US, Oman, Singapore, Australia, and Europe at the Sunnyvale Theater, California. The concert took place in the august presence of her father and Guru Dr. Raja Reddy, who had specially come all the way from India for this momentous occasion. Chief Guest, Dr T.V. Nagendra Prasad, the Consulate General of India, San Francisco, inaugurated the function.
Taking her Guru's legacy forward into the international / virtual territory, Bhavana Reddy started teaching students both in-person and online, working tirelessly to promote the intangible heritage of Kuchipudi dance. Building upon the teachings of Drs. Raja-Radha Reddy, and Kaushalya Reddy, Bhavana is cementing the global presence of Kuchipudi to honour India's classical heritage. The students of the institute travelled from their respective cities and gathered for the first time to camp and perform in person for this occasion completing two years of their Kuchipudi dance training.
The concert opened with the customary invocation to Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, remover of obstacles. The serene swaras of raga Revati reverberated with piety to consecrate not just the stage but the whole ambience when Amulya Vedapalli from Michigan and Jayashree Khemka from New York danced to the invocatory prayer with elan. 'Namaskar Vidhi' and abhinaya were performed next by a group of young dancers Akira, Annapurna, Ashwini and Priyanka Unnam. The Sanskrit shloka from Abhinaya Darpans "Yato Hastah Tato Drishtih..." was performed by these youngsters with perfect understanding and synchronization. 'Hastabhinaya' next had them all reciting the Sanskrit shlokas along with exhibiting the hasta mudras and explaining their 'viniyoga' or utilization as well.
The Manduka Shabdam had the mythological story of Gajendra Moksha, the salvation of the elephant presented by Ananya Krishna, Kati Krishna Reddy and others. This was followed by shlokam reciting and dancing to select shlokas as per Kuchipudi sampradayam with Prathamik (basic) Adavus, the first and foremost steps of this Indian classical dance form. It was performed neatly by Ananya Lakka, Sathvika, Shrinka, Swaechchha, and Vaishnavi. 'My Heart is a Temple' was a Kuchipudi dance item choreographed to English verses, in the form of a Biblical poem, where the performers prayed to universal God to make their heart a temple. Artists Geetaarth Sunderaraman and Maithili Kanduri interpreted it beautifully.
Krishna Shabdam by Gauri Taneja reminded me of Bhavana herself heralding applause while performing to the same romantic verse, enchanting dance lovers at the Millennium Theatre of Kennedy Centre, a few years back, during one of my visits to the US. It was heartening to note her disciple performing it with the same sophistication. It vouched for Bhavana's earnestness and dedication as a teacher herself. Annamacharya's kirthana in praise of Lord Venkateshwara was performed by Amulya, Darshita, Kati Krishna Reddy, Manasa and Saumya who interpreted the ten incarnations of Vishnu with the confidence of their learning and practice.
The Nat-Bhairavi Tarana composed by Pt. Ravi Shankar depicted the dancers as sculptures coming alive in sculpturesque poses when they danced in abandon and froze back into sculptures, in the end. Taranmam displayed the exquisite virtuosity of the dancers Amulya Vedapalli, Gauri Taneja, and Jayashree Khemka as they executed the intricate footwork dancing on the rim of brass plates and coordinated themselves with complicated rhythmic patterns.
Bhavana needs to be congratulated for painstakingly training her students, keeping up the tradition of rigorous training and practice she has gone through herself under the strict discipline of her gurus. Kudos also for the fact that she has done so in such a brief period of just two years. No doubt Natya Tarangini International is striving to follow and propagate the values and ethics upheld by Kuchipudi dancers in India and trying to inculcate it amongst the practitioners of the dance form in the rest of the world.
Manjari Sinha has an M.A. in Sanskrit and Music, and trained in vocal, tabla, sitar and Kathak dance. She has regular columns in national dailies as a music and dance critic.