Classical dancer Bhavana Reddy on interpreting global music the Kuchipudi way
For danseuse Bhavana Reddy, weaving the traditional Indian dance form into Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s ballet piece was a memorable experience.Updated: Dec 15, 2019 13:15 IST
Kuchipudi on Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (a ballet and orchestral concert work). Who would have thought that, right? Kuchipudi danseuse Bhavana Reddy added another feather to her hat when she recently performed and choreographed the dance for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra’s production of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.
The performance was staged with a 100-piece orchestra at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on December 7 and 14, where she worked with LA choreographer and artistic director Kitty McNamee, who choreographed contemporary dance for six LA-based dancers.
“It doesn’t get bigger than LA Phil in the US. When we have our orchestra it’s different. I’m working with modern dancers. The way they comprehend music is different from the way we comprehend music. That for me has been quite an experience, in understanding their experience... It’s just been an adventure, learning the difference and trying to find a bridge,” says Bhavana, the daughter and disciple of the legendary dancers, Padma Bhushan Raja Radha Reddy and Kaushalya Reddy, speaking about the performance that transcended music, language and cultures.
“One of the adventures is that I did not wear a traditional Kuchipudi costume. Kuchipudi is a dance drama where we do a lot of role play. It allows you to have so many different experiences. So, when we are playing a character, we dress like the character... That was just freeing. They tried to bring a global approach to the Rite of Spring and engaged me to bring an Indian flavour to the production. They gave me a lot of freedom to bring the Kuchipudi style to the forefront, be it the acting or the rhythm part of it. They were fascinated by the mudras,” adds Reddy, who in her career spanning over two decades has toured the USA, Canada, Europe, South East Asia and United Arab Emirates multiple times.
On her takeaway from the experience, Reddy says, “We don’t look at ghungroos as instruments. But, I was performing for an orchestra... there’s a part where the orchestra is on stage, and I was centre stage with my ghungroos to perform a Kuchipudi sequence in pindrop silence. To think of it as an instrument was a mind-altering experience for me.”