July 9 2015
These days Indian classical dance is not so rare, but it is more unusual to see Bharanatayam, especially that with something of a ‘modern’ intrepretation…
LIKE some young girls – Kiranmayee Madupu to give her full name – slightly resented being dragged to Bharatanatyam classes by her mother.
But tomorrow, she will take to the stage in London at the Nehru Centre, the cultural arm of the Indian High Commission in the UK, and perform “Prateeka – The Metaphor within” – an evening of Bharatanatyam.
She explained to www.asianculturevulture.com: “I started learning (Bharatanatyam) when my mother took me to bharatanatyam lessons as a six year old and I didn’t really like it and I stopped, but then as a teenager I missed it and started again and then I accelerated the process of learning.”
Professional now, she is making her UK debut, and is looking to establish herself as an artist of international repute.
“It’s my first trip to the UK and I am really serious about my dance career,” she told us.
‘Prateeka’ loosely means symbol and her one and a half-hour solo shows aims to explore the many symbolic representations there are within Hindu mythology and iconography.
“A lot of things are taken pretty literally but I am looking at their relevance in today’s time and the mythological elements there are,” she explained.
“It’s about decoding the symbolic and looking at the deeper more contextual meanings,” theorised the engineering graduate who worked for Deloitte before focusing on her dance career.
It will, she said, allow her to challenge some “misunderstood concepts” about gender equality, freedom of expression, and the quest for self-discovery.
The UK trip has proved a learning experience on several fronts for the 25-year-old, who is based and grew up in Hyderabad in India, and teaches there.
“It’s also where my guru is – she is 80 years old,” she said proudly. Dance traditions such as bharatanatyam are always studied and learnt through a specialist teacher, known in the parlance as a ‘Guru’. Her Guru is Hemamalini Arni.
The young Bharatanatyam performer has just finished volunteering with Annapurna Indian Dance, which is based in Halifax, on an ongoing primary schools project called ‘Unknown Becomes Known’.
“The children were learning about the soldiers who fought in the First World War and we were going into schools and complimenting their studies about the forgotten Commonwealth soldiers who fought,” she said.
Following her performance at the Nehru Centre, she can be seen again at a Hindu temple in Birmingham the next day.
Kiranmayee or Kiran, as she likes to be called, said she was thrilled with the level of interest in Indian classical dance.
“People may be new to the form (Bharatanatyam) but they are keen to expand their horizons,” she felt.
And there was a distinct age difference – most dancers in India tend to be older when they come to perform on their own and seek to establish themselves as soloists.
Kiran is not one to be bound by conventions – she represents a more dynamic form of Indian classical dance, one that isn’t scared of confronting old ideas and setting forth a more socially engaged type of art form and entertainment.
She hails from Balasaraswati School of Abhinaya and Vazhuvoor style of Nritta Bharatanatyam. The main tradition of Bharatanatyam is the predominant practice in the South of India and is different from the more common dance found in the UK, Kathak, which is largely the preserve of Northern India.
‘Prateeka – An Evening of Bharatanatyam with Kiranmayee M’ – Friday, July 10, 6.30pm Nehru Centre, 8 South Audley Street
London W1K 1HF
Free entry… please click: http://www.nehrucentre.org.uk/events/details/article/dance-prateeka-an-evening-of-bharatanatyam-with-kiranmayee-m.html
Pictures: Ashwin Kireet