Dancer Raja Reddy on dance, his two daughters and why he is not a guru for item numbers

Ace dancer Raja Reddy is high on nostalgia. At his daughter Yamini Reddy’s house in Jubilee Hills, the dancer remembers the time when he watched Vyjayanthimala sing Man dole mera tan dole in Nagin and fell in love with her dance. “I was mesmerised by Vyjayanthimala’s dance and watched the movie for 17 days. I was mad about dance,” he remembers. Now, he sees the same passion in his daughter Bhavna. “When people saw her dance, they said she is born only to dance. But Bhavna’s passion is western music and when she told us she wanted to study abroad, we were sceptical. Bhavna told me, ‘If you could travel from a village to Delhi to make your dreams come true, why can’t I go to US.’ I had to let her go to realise her dreams. I am sure, after she comes back she will also dance,” he says.

The father is also proud of his other daughter Yamini Reddy’s achievements with her dance school Natya Tarangini.

He is in Hyderabad for the dance workshop being organised by her. “After her workshop news went online, people in Delhi are asking me when I will hold such a workshop there,” he says. On a reflective note, he says, “Traditional gurus never let their daughters dance. They always encouraged their sons. We have to be progressive and let our daughters do what they want to do. Be it sports, art, music or dance… we should give them our support,” he says.

As a guru he looks for dedication among youngsters. “Some parents tell me, ‘My daughter wants to join films. Can you teach her some items?’ I am not a guru for item numbers,” he says with a laugh.

During his Hyderabad trips, a few rangapravesams he attended left him disappointed. “I noticed many other elements being included during a dance show. In the middle of the performance, the guru’s sanmanam is organised. Then, he gives a speech followed by chief guest’s speech. Kuchipudi has a tradition to it and one needs to have discipline,” he notes.

As he watches his grandson Arjun in a playful mode, he smiles, “When I wished for a grand-daughter, my daughter Yamini told me, ‘You have two wives and two daughters. You should be happy with a grandson.”

Two-day workshop

Yamini Reddy’s idea for a dance workshop emerged when a parent asked her what couture her daughter should wear while dancing. “Another parent had a doubt as to what food her daughter should eat when she is practicing dance. I knew the benefits of yoga from my personal experience and felt students should know about yoga too,” she states.

She decided to address these issues and organise a workshop with experts. “I realised people don’t discuss these topics and there was a need to address them,” she says. The dance workshop organised by her dance school Natya Tarangini at Hotel Golkonda had different sessions on two days. The first day saw a session on costume and make up by fashion designer Ganesh Nallari and eating right and a talk by Dr. Harita Shyam, chief clinical nutritionist at Apollo Hospitals on nutrition and psychological benefits of dancing.

The second day on Thursday saw sessions on yoga and music. Her father and eminent dance guru Raja Reddy shared his experiences with the 150 participants.