Gigs, dance, art

April 17th, 2008: Deepika Reddy

@musée Guimet

At last I found some kuchipudi, it had been close to a year since I saw Shantala Shivalingappa; I have to say I prefer her take on that style, but I’m very happy I could see someone else perform in this style. Especially someone as highly regarded as Deepika Reddy, this gives me some context. I learned quite a lot, but nothing easily put into words, it’s more a question of flow and attention.

The first part was performed by Deepika Reddy and two of her students. I immediately found what I like most about this style, the combination of sinuous arm and hand movements with the rhythmic authority of the feet and legs. The students were good, but they did not reach their teacher’s mastery of that contrast. I guess that’s why they’re students, but they didn’t seem too far away, as they could do both very well, but not as well at the same time. It helped seeing them share the stage in the third part, without the teacher around to distract me; that showed me how good they are. They were also featured in the long narrative fifth part, but that was more acting than dancing — I’m just groping for words here, I don’t remember the actual names — apart for its ending where a student joined her teacher for a bit of that peculiar dancing on copper plates; I didn’t like that one very much, but that’s just my usual preference for abstract dance speaking. Deepika Reddy performed the two other parts alone, one another pantomime piece I didn’t enjoy much, and the final part, lively and satisfying for me.

I think her reputation is not hyperbole, Deepika Reddy really masters this style. I don’t really know what I’m talking about, but the perfection of her technique was highlighted when she performed with her students. I really like the way the upper and lower body are so different yet very much one in this style, and she almost made that look easy. On the other hand, I didn’t really connect much to this performance, maybe that very perfection made it harder; I know I have been expecting/dreading for a while to get familiar enough with classical Indian dance to stop liking it the way it played out with classical European dance. I  will have a few opportunities to check that out in the coming weeks, I’ll know soon enough.

I do like Shantala Shivalingappa better, and having seen again that Pina Bausch solo last week, I think it comes from her diverse interests that somehow come through no matter the type of performance. I hope I’ll get the chance to see another of her kuchipudi performances soon.


April 18, 2008 - Posted by | Dance | , ,


  1. Its nice to see some comments on the above dancers. I think you have not seen the best of Kuchipudi dancers yet. the above both dancers are students of Kuchipudi Art Academy, Chennai, India.

    Comment by Venkat Vempati | April 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. I know I have not seen much at all, and I wish I had an opportunity to see more dancers. My problem is twofold: there’s not that much Kuchipudi in Paris — I’d say Bharathanatyam accounts for three quarters of the shows at least — and when there is one I often first hear about it after the show is either over or sold out. So any info about a tour stopping over here would be most appreciated!

    Comment by counterfnord | April 10, 2009 | Reply

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