In the critically acclaimed film Black Swan (2011), Natalie Portman was hailed for her portrayal of the White and the Black Swan — two graceful and sensual creatures who fall in love with a prince. The film highlights the fluidity of movement through the mannerisms of the swan — a bird that is symbolic of beauty and grace across folk tales. All this, through classical ballet.
“It’s not easy adapting animal movements to dance recitals. One needs to study the animal’s body language, how they behave in their natural habitat and, in turn, choreograph a piece that adheres to the norms of a dance form,” says Bhavana Reddy (25), a Delhi-based kuchipudi dancer and the daughter of Padma Bhushan awardees and kuchipudi exponents — Raja and Radha Reddy. She is now set to play the golden swan in Hamsoham, a kuchipudi dance recital based on the mythological tale of Nala and Damayanti, as part of the Mudra dance festival, this weekend.
As daunting as it sounds, the task of adapting the fragile beauty of a swan was relatively easier for Reddy, who has more than two decades of experience in dance. She’s been dancing since so long, that she doesn’t even remember her first public performance. “I have only seen videos of me essaying the characters of a young Krishna and Ram in my parents’ dance recitals. I have no objective memory of how my tryst with kuchipudi began,” says Reddy.
And though classical dance is a family legacy, Reddy’s true passion lies in pursuing music. While learning and performing kuchipudi throughout her childhood, Reddy slowly found herself drawn to rock music. Post school, she spent many an afternoon headbanging to the American band Alice in Chains and singing along to its classics such as Rooster. “I felt like a normal teenager whose feelings were effectively captured in these rock songs,” says Reddy.
However, Reddy has come a long way from singing along to records. In 2013, she performed at the Grammy Award’s after-party in Los Angeles, USA. “The experience even inspired me to release my own EP, Tangled in Emotions, last year,” she says.
Reddy says she feels lucky to belong to a generation that was exposed to international arts and maintained a strong connection to their heritage. “I’m rooted, but I also see what’s up in the sky,” she says.
What: Bhavana Reddy will perform Hamsoham on April 21, at 7pm
Where: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
Call: 6622 3737
Animal kingdom: In its eighth edition, NCPA’s annual dance festival Mudra will showcase the influences of animal movements and behaviour in Indian classical dances. Here are our picks