AS PART of a cultural exchange programme between India and Slovakia, Bratislava residents had an opportunity to witness the performance of Yamini Reddy, the renowned icon of the classical Indian dance known as Kuchipudi. She danced at the Dúbravka House of Culture on June 22. Kuchipudi enjoys a unique place among Indian dance forms with all its vigorous and vibrating leaps and turns and lyrical tones. It derives its name from the village of Kuchelapuram in Andhra Pradesh, southern India, where it developed largely from the Bhakti (devotion) movement of the seventh century AD.
Yamini Reddy, daughter of Kuchipudi exponents Raja and Radha Reddy, learned the dance from her parents and has an extremely captivating presence with a talent for rhythm and expression. She gave her first solo performance at the age of three, one which earned her a standing ovation. Yamini has since mastered the conventional style of performing this dance.
She performed four dances in the course of the evening, starting with the usual commencement dance, a sort of prayer to the gods; in Bratislava she danced her Ganpati Vandana to the elephant-headed god Ganesha. The next dance was Krishanbdam where she mimed the mythological girl Nayika who falls in love with another god, Krishna, and tries to attract him and lure him to her. Her devotion is more symbolic and spiritual than that of the flesh. The third dance, Shiva’s Dance, is unique in that it is meant to be performed by a man. The Indian god Shiva is depicted as Lord of the Dance here. Both quick movements and stationary poses make this piece physically very demanding. The last performed dance, Tarana, is a devotional one for Mother Earth, where the dancer impersonates a temple sculpture, a sad goddess who cannot participate in the living world. She wakes up and starts dancing, but then she has to freeze back to sculpture. A part of this piece is a masterful dance on the brim of a brass plate which symbolises one’s separation from earthly matters.
The event, accompanied by a live orchestra of four, was organised by the Indian Embassy in Slovakia and sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in New Delhi.