Bharatanatyam dancer and founder of Abhinetri Arts Academy, Pramod Reddy, has piloted many interesting initiatives. He started Natya Pravaha, Pranam, Thyagaraja Aradhana Utsavam, Gandharva and Seekathon, all have been well-received by co-dancers and Rasikas alike. But, one that stands out is a special male dance festival – Gandharva, initiated in 2016, with a purpose to elucidate the work and the contribution of men towards the Indian classical dance forms.
Speaking to Natyahasini, Bharatanatyam dancer Pramod Reddy shares that Gandharva was a very sudden thought. “One night, I was just doing my office work and it hit me that when it comes to performances, the opportunity for males is very few. I am telling this from personal experience as sometimes people would ask for group of girls for performances, when I would say there is a boy, they would indirectly tell me it would be better if it were all girls. This seed germinated into Gandharva,” he says.
Personally, Pramod wanted to do a simple dance festival for males, but when the same was discussed with Kuchipudi and Vilasini Natyam exponent, Dr. Anupama Kylash, the final shape emerged. “Dr. Anupama Kylash suggested the name Gandharva, which means the people who sing and dance as service to Gods. This was one of our biggest hits that included many art forms that provided opportunities to many youngsters,” he says, quickly adding that at one time they had even thought of bringing together working professionals and passionate dancers to motivate people and provide them a platform.
A Different Feel: Pramod Reddy’s passion about the art form can be judged by his several ballets and festivals. The dancer admits that there were certain things that he couldn’t accomplish during his dancing career because of many factors and his unfulfilled dreams having fuelled such festivals to give opportunity to others and help them realise their dreams. “The Thyagaraja Aradhana that we do is a complete different feel, when all the singers sing and dancers dance to the five Pancharatna Kritis. It feels eternal as if there are no boundaries and I believe it’s one of our most reachable and enjoyed program,” he says.
Sharing thoughts on Seekathon, the Bio-Statistician at Dr. Reddy’s, says that it is an amazing experience which is supported by Dr. Anupama Kylash and Sri Jayachandran where one can discover a lot of new things. “Sometime soon, we would conduct a three-day Seekathon conference. It will be a great experience for the learners as we want to get dancers from across India to give lectures, conduct panel discussions and many more things,” he says enthusiastically.
Motivated By Brother: Revealing his schooling into dance, Pramod says the thought came while studying in a Gurukul, where there were many activities like yoga, music and dance that inspired him to get into dance. “I personally believe dance is an art that includes almost all the Fine Arts. No one from my family is into Fine Arts. My parents didn’t join me, nor it was my decision to enrol. It was my brother who pushed me to join Shri Bhakta Ramadasu Government College of Music and Dance,” he says. Taking a trip down memory lane, Pramod says that the college was very different during those days. “It was like our regular university classes. We had classes everyday other than weekends. We would go every evening and the experience was surreal. I completed my Certification and Diploma from there under Guru Manjula Srinivas garu,” he says.
After falling in love with Bharatanatyam, one of his friends introduced him to Bharatanatyam dancer and director of Bharathanatyalaya, Chitra Narayanan ma’am. “Under Chitra ma’am, I have learned advance intricacies of the art form. The point of choreography, music and even abhinaya and that was a great experience. Honestly, when I started learning, I didn’t know the difference between all these forms in school. It was just some sort of classical dance that I enjoyed doing, but when I joined the university, Manjula Srinivas ma’am was teaching Bharatnatyam that’s when I entered into this form,” he says and denies any specific reason for picking up this art form to learn. “But much later after a lot of experience, I believe I have chosen the right path. I feel this art form provides me the freedom to express myself without any boundaries and pushes me to increase my creativity every day,” Pramod acknowledges.
Ardent Learner: Delving deeper into his learning days, he says that apart from learning dance, he would take part in many programs and productions. “Manjula ma’am’s husband, Srinivas sir would have productions in Kuchipudi and other folk arts as well, so this gave me an experience of learning about other art forms, their costumes, music and many other things and taught me a lot about managing productions,” says the artist.
About Chitra ma’am, Pramod confesses that her place is his second home. “The experience I had with her was completely different and unforgettable as Chitra ma’am’s Guru was her mother, Rukmini Srinivasan Garu, who learnt from Gouri ammal, who we all know as the epitome of abhinaya. When it came to Chitra ma’am teaching me abhinaya, it was very simple and in Lokadharmi point of view,” he says.
Recalling an abhinaya piece taught by Chitra ma’am years ago, Pramod says that it was the story of Nanda Gopal, who had to handle Krishna when Yashodha was not at home. “It was a complete abhinaya item. The way she composed it, left me mind blowing. She added how Nanda Gopal was confused handling the child and wondered how Yashodha did it every day. It taught me a whole different method of approach to composing abhinaya pieces which I use even today while composing new items. I will always try to keep the audiences in mind and make sure they are able to connect with what I am doing,” says the disciple of Chitra ma’am.