Meet Pranav Tadikonda! A young man from Maryland, who practices Kuchipudi with a passion!
1, How old are you and what do you do? (grade/school/college)
I am sixteen years old and I am a junior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland.
2. When did you start dancing and who are your gurus?
I started dancing in July 2010, when I was seven years old. I am a student of Late Kala Ratna Guru Vempati Ravi Shankar and Mrs. Priyanka Vempati. I previously learnt under Guru Smt. Lakshmi Babu
3. How do you prep for a dance performance?
I start preparing for a dance program at least a month in advance. If I am learning a new item, I show up to Skype class everyday for one hour and I learn the dance in a week. The next 3+ weeks are spent on mastering the movements and making sure my technique is refined. If I am performing a familiar item, I spend the whole month getting corrections from my guru and perfecting all the nuances of the dance.
4. What’s your favorite dance item or music piece you listen to when you want to connect to dance?
My favorite item is definitely Natesha Kauthuvam. Although I am still in the process of learning the dance, the fast paced jathis, beautiful Hamsadhwani raga, and energizing movements make me feel so motivated to dance.
5. How would you describe an amazing dancer and do you have any inspiring role models?
My biggest inspiration and role model is my guru, Kala Ratna Guru Vempati Ravi Shankar. His knowledge of the art form, his skill, his passion, and his multifaceted talents are so inspiring. Spending just two weeks with him in India changed my entire perspective on the dance world and especially Kuchipudi. Since my winter break spent with him, my respect for the Kuchipudi traditions and love for the art form has exponentially grown. He has taught me that a good dancer must be any man or woman willing to dedicate hours and hours trying to perfect each and every one of their movements, while also feeling the emotions of the dance and expressing abhinaya skillfully and gracefully.
6. How has dancing helped you in other areas? School, friendships and other?
Dancing defines a major part of my life, but it also significantly contributes to my academic and extracurricular endeavors. The artistic mindset that I have developed through dance has aided me in school countless times, whether it be applying a problem solving mindset to a hard math problem, or analyzing novels. Being a dancer opens up new doors for me to be able to explore the world around me. A lot of my friends are actually not dancers, but that’s what makes my friendships beautiful. One of my friends is a Boy Scout, the other is a piano player, one is a genius math student, etc. We all have something unique to offer one another, and they are so supportive of my dance endeavors.
7. In your eyes, what’s your biggest achievement or moment of satisfaction (in dance)?
My biggest moment of satisfaction in dance was completing my Rangapravesam last summer. For years I’ve gone to arangetrams and rangapravesams and have just been in awe as I’ve seen dancers skillfully presenting anywhere from 6 to 10 dances over the course of the evening. I was always intimidated by the idea, since my memory has never been intact for practically anything. My gurus, Guru Vempati Ravi Shankar (Master Garu) and Mrs. Priyanka Vempati, took me to unfathomable heights and motivated me to reach the goal of having a 7 dance rangapravesam. Although Master Garu was unfortunately not there in person for my program, I felt his presence as I completed each dance, and felt so accomplished and happy as I walked off the stage after my mangalam, the audience clapping and my guru smiling at me with proud eyes.
8. It’s the year 2024 – where do you see yourself in the dance field?
In the year 2024, I see myself graduating college. But more than that, I see myself graduating college, ready to take on my next journey in dance. During college, I would have hopefully performed at my college numerous times, while also taking Skype and in-person classes from my guru. In 2024, I just want to continue to learn, learn, and learn. The beauty of the Kuchipudi art form is that there is never an end to learning. In 2024, I hope to be making plans to travel the world, while also pursuing higher education, to continue immersing myself in my passions.