“I am excited and stressed,” reveals Yamini Reddy ahead of staging Drishya Kavya this weekend. Kuchipudi dancer Yamini will be joined by 10 students from her dance institute Natya Tarangini. They will present poems of eminent poets Vallampati Venkata Subbaiah, Tulasidas, Narayana Teertha, Swati Thirunal and Jayadeva, in dance form. In fact Drishya Kavya will see Yamini present her original production to Hyderabadis after quite long.
Conceptualised by Yamini and choreographed by her father and renowned Kuchipudi guru Raja Reddy, Drishya Kavya is an attempt to make audience soak in the lyrical beauty of poems. As Raja Reddy recites the poems live, the audience can imagine their visual form. Then the dancers step in. “We use poetry in dance; poetry is also inspired by dance. Here, instead of regular musical compositions, we are dancing to poems. So watching the dance will be like watching a poem move on stage,” she shares.
A poetry buff, Yamini had been mulling the concept of dancing to poems for about six months; she used the time to research and choose poets; finally she even included excerpts of a poem she had written. “I am not as great as other poets,” she demurs, adding, “Indian classical dance is a language of gestures and movement. Compared to western dance, we use many lyrics, mudras and abhinaya to express. Dance is a beautiful vehicle to communicate poems.”
Yamini says about her research, “My biggest challenge was to select poems suitable to dance and highlight a combination of different rasas to take the audience a journey of emotions.” To bring it to fruition, she worked with her technicians to ensure that the lighting does not dominate the proceedings. “LED screens can be distracting and the audience cannot see the abhinaya . Dancers work so hard but their skills are lost amidst bright lights. ”
A multi-lingual production, with a mix of Telugu, Hindi and English poetry, begins with Madhava Panchakam by Oothukadu Venkata Kavi. “Although we hear these poems, we do not know their meaning and significance. Dance helps to connect and brings that out.” She has not tampered with the traditional format but has taken the poet’s imagination to dance form. She mentions that Jayadeva’s Asthapadi, usually a solo item, will be presented in a group format, showing Krishna’s rasaleela with many Radhas. Yamini will present a mono act of Tulsidas’ Bhaj Man Ram Charan based on the Ramayana.
The dancers accompanying Yamini have been her students for a decade now. “Grooming your students is like raising your child; when you see them perform beautifully, you are happy that you have done something right in life,” she smiles.
(‘ Drishya Kavya — Poetry in Movement’ by Yamini Reddy and Group will be held on November 10 at Ravindra Bharathi; 6 15 pm onwards. Free passes can be booked on www.eventbrite.com)