Kuchipudi dance exponent, student of legendary Guru Padmabhushan Vempati China Satyam and Dr Sobha Naidu, Dr G Padmaja Reddy received the prestigious Padma Shri award from Government of India for the years 2021.
With deep love for Kuchipudi and a fiery zeal to preserve and promote the classical dance form Kuchipudi, she has been giving performances, and extensively researching on dance for the last 50 years. She has trained over 1000 students through her dance school ‘Pranav’. Many of her students are today, successful performers and teachers. She has conceptualised several dance ballets not just based on mythology but to create awareness on social and women issues as well. Her recent ballet ‘Kakatiyam’ is an inspiration from the book, a dance text from the 12th century “Nritta Rantnavali” penned by Jayappasena, who is the uncle of the legendary queen of Kakatiya dynastry Rani Rudramadevi.
Padmaja Reddy explains, “Art and literature flourished during the Kakatiya rule and lot of significance was given to dance and other art forms. They built temples of Lord Shiva in their dynasty and the dance sculptures in Ramappa temple can be related to the dance concepts mentioned in Nritta Ratnavali. The book elaborately explains the dance concepts, classical art forms and folk-art forms of our history. My aim was to transform these dance concepts present in the script form into a visual dance form which would enable our people of Telangana to understand and visualize the art forms which once existed in 1253 AD and was part of our ancient history.”
Several dance forms, which existed during the Kakatiyan rule have been elaborately explained in the book. Dr Padmaja Reddy chose concepts like Bhramari, Kanduka nrityamu, Chaarana, Gondali, Gaddisani, etc and transformed them from the script form to a dance presentation. As these dance varieties belong to the period of kakatiyan reign, the name “kakatiyamu” for this dance form was chosen. She says, “I am happy and honoured that I have been a tool in materializing ‘Kakatiyamu’. The whole process of development was quite challenging. A sincere attempt of studying and understanding the contents of the book, discussions with scholars, extensive literature survey, a lot of research and continuous effort has led us to the development of “Kakatiyam”.”
While the dance Guru worked extensively to research and record for posterity various concepts of dance, she does not believe that art is only for art’s sake. Numerous ballets have been choreographed and presented by me and my students in India and abroad. In addition to the mythological concepts, I have always had a keen interest in dance dramas based on social issues which led me to choreograph dance ballets such as “Bruna hathyalu” condemning female foeticide, “Jagruthi” on AIDS awareness, “Prakruthi” on Nature, “Vajrabarathi” on national integration, etc. I have always believed that art especially dance is a wonderful tool to convey important social messages to the society, she reveals.
As a woman who has managed to balance life and her ambition, she says perseverance is the mantra to achieving goals, and sees great hope for future in the younger generation. “I strongly believe that women are empowered with a lot of energy and patience by nature. In our road to success there may be several hurdles and difficulties. Whatever the crisis may be one should walk undeterred towards their goal and I am sure our younger generation is sure to achieve their destination with hardwork, discipline and perseverance. Also, when we keep doing our duty without any expectations on the outcome, God’s grace and blessings are always with us.”
The busy Guru that she is, it took a lot of work and some spare time she got during the pandemic to author a book, and carry out the choreography work for ‘Kakatiyam’. “During the pandemic there were no physical classes and major part of the training was given to students through online classes. I have put my heart and soul in developing this project and it is a result of our years of hard work. I have used my personal funds for the development of kakatiyam-2 as it has been my passion and dream project.”
Bringing the focus to the role of government in promoting art and culture, and talented young artistes, she reminds, “In the field of art and culture the government’s role and support is very crucial as a lot of funding is required for research and development of new projects. There is a lot of talent in our country and government should introduce new schemes to bring that talent to the front, grades and scholarships can be given to deserving students. More opportunities should be given to upcoming and young dancers which would motivate them to achieve more in this field.”