She may be the daughter of the Kuchipudi greats Raja and Radha Reddy, but over the years, she has proved to be more than just that. Yamini Reddy has carved a niche not only as a performer, but also as an able guru having honed many young dancers since the time she moved to Hyderabad — a decade ago.
It was marriage that got her out of Delhi, where her parents live. And today, when she sits down to reminisce, that shift seems to have been just what she needed to grow as an individual. “When I look back today, I am glad I got out of Delhi. It came as an opportunity to move out of my parents’ shadows and do something on my own. I feel, in Delhi I would have always been under the shadow of Raja-Radha Reddy,” says the 35-year-old dancer as she settles down for a chat with Hyderabad Times about her childhood in Delhi, growing up with two mothers (Raja Reddy is married to Radha and Kausalya), sibling rivalry with her dancer-musician sister Bhavana, marriage, motherhood and more.
For the rest of the world, Raja-Radha Reddy are legends. At home, they were parents
While growing up in Delhi, it didn’t really occur to me that my parents are these great Kuchipudi exponents whom everybody looks up to. They were performers, who travelled the world to popularise Kuchipudi. Their days began and ended with dance… I vividly remember, there were days when they would forget to pick me up from school (laughs). I’d wait and eventually my patience would run out and I would go to the school’s office to call home. I’d say, ‘Dad, you forgot to pick me up again’, and then he would hurriedly assure, ‘No no, I am coming, I am coming.’
They also went on long foreign tours; sometimes for two to three months at a stretch. So by the time I was in 4th or 5th grade, I was pretty independent. I learned to be responsible from an early age.
Only after I handed my mom my MBA did she let me pursue dance as a profession
I was always passionate about dance even when I was a toddler. But when I told my parents that I want to take up dance professionally, they flatly said, ‘No’.
It was my mother who put her foot down. She said, ‘You have to study. We don’t want you to pursue dance solely as it’s a long and hard struggle. We have been through it…’
I realised that my mom wanted me to finish my education. So to please her, I did my BCom from Lady Shri Ram College before doing MBA and went to her with the certificate. She said, ‘Good, now look for a job’. That was when I insisted that I want to dance.
My dad wouldn’t allow me to do a rangapravesham till I was 20
My dad is a very loving and doting father. But as a guru, discipline was his priority.
He wouldn’t let me do my rangapravesham till I was 20. ‘You are not ready’ is all he would tell me. It was in 2002, when I was prepping for my rangapravesham that I saw how he grilled his disciples. I used to hear such awful things from my father that it sometimes used to bring me to tears.
All issues we had in the classroom were rarely left behind there; they used to spill over to the dinner table. We carried them home, and we bickered over dinner. Sometimes, dinner would go on for two hours. And our house helps would sit and wait for us to finish, so that they can clean up and go home.
Two mothers meant double the love and double the discipline
Of course, we faced a lot of strange questions from our peers at school or college about us having two mothers. They would ask us questions like, ‘So all of you live under one roof?’ But, for us, it seemed all so natural. We were one unit as a family and there was no differentiation between the children either.
But growing up with two mothers means double the love and double the criticism. If you do something wrong, you’ll have to hear about it four times, instead of two times. But amma and Kausalya mummy have completely different world views. So, that kind of made things interesting. And dad was always a refuge. When both moms were after us, we ran to him (laughs).
I was an awkward teen
I was this awkward teenager, a plump tomboy, who walked with a hunch. If you had seen me back then, you wouldn’t believe that I was training to be a dancer (laughs). But I was blind to all these things — I saw only dance. So, I put in a lot of conscious effort to get to where I am today, from losing weight to correcting my posture. Bhavana, on the other hand, was one of those children who is extremely talented. She was also dainty, pretty and feminine.
Dance came naturally to me. music was Bhavana’s forte
Both of us had to learn dance and music. But between me and Bhavana, she was a natural with music. She started singing at a very young age and went on to learn the violin too. I struggled with singing. And it was very annoying to be in the same class as your sister, who was eight-years younger, acing it. When teacher would say ‘Paadandamma padandi’, Bhavana would effortlessly go ‘Saregamapadanisa’ and I went ‘Saaaaa, reeee, gg-gggaa’.
But today, as artistes we are very different. Someone aptly said, ‘Ek drupad hai, aur dusri thumri hai’. So there is really no competition between us.
Marriage brought me to Hyderabad
I got married and I landed in Habsiguda in 2006. It was a drastic change for me. The first few months, I just stayed at home and practised dance. My husband (Srinivas) and his cousins were great when it came to introducing me to the city. But I still remember the first few months being a bit lonely and very silent. It was in 2007, when I started my classes, that I found a new lease of life… a purpose in teaching Kuchipudi.
Motherhood changed me as a dancer
Motherhood is this great responsibility that is thrust on you. When I got married, I used to wake up late, which was a shock for a family of early raisers. I would wake up at 9 am and come down rubbing my eyes to hear husband’s jokes, like: ‘My morning is Yamini’s midnight’
After motherhood, you have no excuse or choice. You have to wake up early and get cracking. The realisation that there is a life that relies on you opens up new dimensions that you did not know existed. You don’t know how much you can stretch yourself till motherhood hits you. When I look back now, I find it funny that I would get anxious for not having my 8-hours of sleep before a show. Now, I’ve the capacity to have a 30-hour day (laughs). Motherhood also changed me as a dancer. My experiences as a mother reflect in how I interpret subjects now.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Hyderabad News / by Samyuktha K / May 03rd, 2017