Prathibha Prahlad received the ICONIC DANCE & CULTURE AWARD from the tourism sector, on March 23, 2023.
The Madras Music Academy has announced that the SANGITA KALANIDHI award for 2023 goes to Bombay Jayashri and NRITHYA KALANIDHI award goes to Vasanthalakshmi Narasimhachari. The music award will be conferred at the Sadas on Jan 1, 2024 and dance award on Jan 3, 2024 at the inauguration of the 17th Annual Dance Festival in Chennai.
Shambhavi School of Dance honored 94 year old Vimala Rangachar with the NATYASASTRA AWARD as part of the 7th edition of Nayika on March 15, 2023 at Bangalore. The stages that we often perform on or organise festivals at, be it ADA Rangamandira or Seva Sadan are her brain child.
Bharatanatyam dancer Srekala Bharath received the NATYA KALA SARATHY award from Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha on 20th March 2023 at Chennai.
"Dance is my meditation, my prayer and my life."
UMA RAO of Kalakshetra passed away on March 9, 2023. She was born at Bellur, Mandya District (Karnataka), in the family of poet laureate B.M. Sree. Even at the age of ten, she excelled as a child performer in Kathak, from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, New Delhi, under the able guidance of Guru Teerathram Azad. Uma got a surprising opportunity to act in the Hollywood film ‘Maya’ produced by MGM. The film put her on the world map as an artiste of inborn talent. But a film career did not attract her and she took to classical dance, under the expert tutelage and direct guidance of Rukmini Devi Arundale, the doyen of Indian art and culture. This turn in Uma’s life was the timely encouragement given by the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the matinee idol of Tamil films, M.G. Ramachandran who saw her inherent talent. MGR and his wife Janaki were Uma's local guardians in her initial stages of Kalakshetra life.
Uma completed her post–graduation in Bharatanatyam with First Class distinction from Kalakshetra, Chennai, followed by her arangetram (along with dancer Jayalakshmi Eswar) on Dec,1 1972 at Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts. She established herself as an outstanding performer and able teacher during her 24 years of stay at Kalakshetra. She was a graceful dancer and a perfect receptacle for Rukmini Devi’s ideas. She took part in all major dance dramas produced by Rukmini Devi in leading characters winning laurels and globetrotted to many countries of Europe, Russia, China, Vietnam, Korea, Hong-Kong, USA, Japan and other countries.
Later, Uma Rao joined SIFAS (Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society), Singapore, in the Dept. of Bharatanatyam and created an unparalleled history on the Singapore arts scene during her stay. The crisp stage productions, choreography and dedicated teaching brought her unstinted name and fame from her students, art lovers, press and general public. Uma Rao being also a vocalist with a sweet voice, her command over nattuvangam, ability to teach in multi languages and the privileged close association with Rukmini Devi, has placed her in a unique place in the field of Bharatanatyam.
On March 11, 2023 Bharatanatyam Guru Viji Prakash was honored with the LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD at the Los Angeles Indian Dance Festival by Soorya Foundation for Performing Arts in California.
Dr. KANAK RELE (11 June 1937- 22 Feb 2023)
A visionary, academician and Mohiniattam performer par excellence, Dr. Kanak Rele, founder-director of Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya (1972) and Nalanda Dance Research Centre (1966), passed away in Mumbai on February 22, 2023. She was a qualified lawyer with an LLB from the Government Law College, Mumbai and had a diploma in international law from the University of Manchester. She also had a Ph.D in dance from the University of Mumbai.
Dr. Rele trained in Kathakali under Guru 'Panchali' Karunakara Panicker. Her initiation into Mohiniattam came much later under Kalamandalam Rajalakshmi. A grant from the Sangeet Natak Akademi and later the Ford Foundation helped her delve deeper into her interest in Mohinattam and during 1970–71 she traveled to Kerala filming exponents of the dance form such as Kunjukutty Amma, Chinnammu Amma and Kalyanikutty Amma. The project helped acquaint her with the nuances of Mohiniattam and record its traditional and technical styles while also enabling her to evolve a teaching methodology for it. Her study of these artistes and their technique against the backdrop of classical texts like Natyasastra, Hastalakshanadeepika and Balaramabharatam led her to develop her own style of Mohiniattam dubbed the 'Kanaka Rele School of Mohiniattam.' Rele's association with the Malayalam poet and scholar Kavalam Narayana Panicker led to her introduction to Sopana Sangeetham and creation of choreographic pieces set to Sopana Sangeetam's talas.
Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya was established with the sole purpose to provide and promote academics in Indian classical dances in its pristine purity. Performing Arts (dance) was brought on par with every other stream of education. Rele's vision was to bring about the traditional sanctity of Guru-Shishya Parampara to every stratum of the society and especially to young minds. Nalanda's educational degrees is affiliated to the Mumbai University. Kanak Rele herself created a record by earning her Ph.D in dance, the first in India, in 1977. Her doctoral thesis was titled 'Mohini Attam: All aspects and Spheres of Influence'. She is the author of 'Mohini Attam – The Lyrical Dance' (1992), 'Bhava Niroopana' (1996) and 'Me and My Mohini Attam' (2022).
Kanak Rele's awards and honors include Gaurav Puraskar by the Government of Gujarat (1989), Padma Shri (1990), Kalidas Samman from Government of Madhya Pradesh (2006), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, M S Subbulakshmi Award, Padma Bhushan by the Government of India (2013).
Kathak Guru PT JITENDRA MAHARAJ, artistic director of Sangeetika, passed away in Delhi on February 18, 2023 after a brief illness on the day of Maha Shivaratri. A disciple of Guru Kishan Kumar Maharaj, he was an exponent of Varanasi gharana of Kathak. There was music in the modulated tonal richness of his fluent 'paddhant' (dance vocabulary) of rhythmic syllables. He was renowned for long breathtaking 'kavits' (lyrical poetry), dizzying 'chakkars' (pirouettes), incredibly complicated 'tatkar' (footwork) and the infinite laya (rhythm) and abhinaya variations. A consummate dancer and an accomplished percussionist, he had many dance productions to his credit. He set a trend in selecting themes of mythological and non-mythological stories. Along with his disciples he set a world record dancing at the height of 18,000ft at Kailash Mansarovar in 2003. He was a recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award given by the government of India. His prominent disciples include Kathak dancers Nalini and Kamalini
The General Council of Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, at its meeting held from 6-8 November 2022 at New Delhi unanimously selected 75 artistes, who are above the age of 75 years and haven't been accorded any national honour in their career so far, from the field of the Performing Arts of India for the one-time SANGEET NATAK AKADEMI AMRIT AWARD under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM) commemorating 75 years of India's independence. The SNA Amrit Award carries a purse money of Rs. 1,00,000 (Rupees one lakh), besides a Tamrapatra and Angavastram. The dance awardees are:
Mahankali Srimannarayana Murthy (Kuchipudi), Hori Bora Barbayan (Sattriya), Kumkum Lal (Odissi), Charan Girdhar Chand (Kathak), Smita Rajeshbhai Shastri (Kuchipudi), Lalitha Srinivasan (Bharatanatyam), N. Appunni Tharakan (Makeup for Kathakali), Kalakshetra Vilasini (Bharatanatyam), Kalamandalam Prabhakaran (Ottanthullal), Padma Sharma (Kathak), Hijam Tombi Singh (Manipuri), Siba Prasad Das (Chhau), Gobinda Chandra Pal (Odissi-Gotipua), Girdhari Maharaj (Kathak), V.A.K Ranga Rao (scholar & documentation), Purnima Pande (Kathak), Susmita Misra (Kathak), Thankamani Kutty (Bharatanatyam), Bhagabandas Kumar (Chhau), H. Bishwaroop Singh (Thang Ta)
Highlights ; Obituaries