Amy Kumar, Kuchipudi dancer, who has attended the first two sessions of the year-long Tamrapatra series initiated by Bharatanatyam dancer and founder of Shankarananda Kalakshetra, Ananda Shankar Jayant, in July 2021, heaps praises on the session. She has also posted her recent learning on her social media page. Speaking to Natyahasini, Amy Kumar says that the first session by Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant and the second by Dr. Anupama Kylash has been immense and mind boggling. “I think what Ananda Akka has come up with through this series is an excellent opportunity provided to dancers worldwide to learn from the best, to understand how senior Gurus approach and present the beautiful Annamacharya Sankeertanas through Abhinaya, from the comfort of our homes. What more can one ask for! The learning material provided along with the Sahitya Delineation done by Anu Akka is given utmost importance which makes the whole experience more enriching,” says the Kuchipudi teacher.
The dancer reveals that she has set a target for herself for the next one year to not just attend sessions every month, but to work on it through the month to the point of being able to present a snippet of the learnings online on her social media page. “It is a challenge I’ve been enjoying so far, considering the fact that my regular job and dance classes have got me quite busy all through the week. After ages, this is a project I’ve taken on which I’m doing just for myself, and I’m thoroughly enjoying myself.” Amy recommends Tamrapatra sessions for dancers who aren’t aware of the series or haven’t registered yet.
Lovely Photoshoot: Amy says it was lovely to do a photoshoot with dancers Nenita Praveen, Maithri Rao and Kiranmayee Madupu (Founder – Tarikita). “The Tarikita photoshoot happened to me at a time when I was just recovering from COVID and going through a tough phase mentally. The Universe just never fails to save me when I need it the most. I stepped out of my room after two months of isolation and mental health struggles which was scary and exciting at the same time. What made the experience more fun was to share the frame with childhood dancer-friend Nenita Praveen,” she says with a smile.
According to Amy, the most uplifting moment for her was the comfort of being able to speak one’s mind and just be yourself around artists who share common interests and just let you be and do what you’re good at. “What made the outcome look the way it did was the fact that we went with the flow and embraced the challenges that came along while giving each other space and respect to allow our creative juices flow and bring out a good final product. This is something I am very proud of artists of my generation,” she says. Amy adds that she has always enjoyed posing for the camera since a kid. “It was something that came very naturally to me and made me happy. I did do a couple of fun modelling assignments during my college days and was approached for ads and short films, but somehow never took it too seriously. I think I was too engrossed in my studies and dance to make time for another hobby,” she states.
As Teacher: Amy has been teaching the Kuchipudi art form since the last seven years. “Teaching has become a part of who I am as a person – my biggest learning experience. Every student is unique for me and I make it a point to let my students know that. Teaching youngsters is great because you’re updated with the latest trends and ways of life which helps bring in a fresh perspective to things. Besides teaching them technical aspects of the dance form, I always make it a point to have individual and group conversations with the students to ensure we are on the same page and the whole process is making sense to both the teacher and student,” says the dancer.
The artist says: “We are like a family – My Dancing Family is what I call ourselves. Not just my students but the parents also are an integral part of the whole team – which is the objective of Prerana Pratibha – an institute to promote young talent founded by my parents in 2005. Since we are a family, challenges are handled in an open and transparent way which makes the bond stronger. This is one of the core values we adhere to and the students/parents who are part of the group share the same feeling.” She says that online classes have been one of their major challenges, especially for few students but they have come up with working depending on their learning capabilities and interest levels and are focussing on the pros of connecting online.
Shakira Phase: Amy started dancing at the age of four by imitating whatever dance moves she saw on TV, mostly Bollywood songs of Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai. It then moved on to Music bands which involved lot of dancing. “I remember going through a major “Shakira-phase” as well, when her song “Whenever Wherever” was released. “Would attempt copying her steps, practiced relentlessly and then performed it for my friends and family at school events and family gatherings. I have always enjoyed movement in general irrespective of the genre/language.” The dancer acknowledges that all this was before her formal training in Classical dance began. “I distinctly remember feeling unadulterated happiness moving my body to various rhythmic patterns and musical notes. Not much has changed since then, I still enjoy learning and dancing all forms of dance/movement. It gives me immense joy, happiness and peace,” she states.
Recalling her classical dance journey, Amy says that her father had his office in Habsiguda and she would often visit his office after school. “Adjacent to his office building was an independent house with a huge front yard where I would see a number of students of all age groups practice dance four days a week. After observing them for a few weeks, attempting to copy the moves, and failing to do so, my curiosity increased. On realising it’s a dance school, I insisted we go check it out assuming it was Bharatanatyam since that was the popular dance form that people heard of. It turned out to be Kuchipudi, so that was that. It didn’t matter to me, I just wanted to dance and calm the very real “keeda” (bug) from within which had to learn a new body movement that was beyond just watching and copying. Yes, this was me when I was nine years,” the dancer recalls.