Attendance awards
- G. Ulaganathan
December 4, 2014

Aniruddha Knight
Short and sweet –this sums up the attendance 2014 awards ceremony in Bengaluru on 30th November.  One of the much awaited events in the cultural calendar of Bengaluru, attendance awards, mentored by dance historian and critic Ashish Mohan Khokar and his wife Elisabeth, was as usual held this year at the Alliance Francaise auditorium attended by the dancers and dance lovers of this Garden City.

There were five awardees and they were selected by an exclusive jury whose names are not revealed. This year, the Ram Gopal Best Solo Male Dancer Award went to Aniruddha ‘Bala’ Knight, the grandson of the legend Balasaraswati, who is based in the US and is a Bharatanatyam dancer. In fact, the program began with his executing a couple of padams in slow tempo with support from a live orchestra. It was quite a revelation and one felt a strong sense of nostalgia seeing him dance.

The Overall Excellence Award given in the name of Prof. Mohan Khokar, Ashish’s father and celebrated dance scholar, was bestowed upon Dr. Anita Ratnam, the multi-faced dancer and communicator, Founder and Managing Editor of the dance portal An overwhelmed Anita spoke fondly about Prof. Khokar and suggested that his priceless dance collection be preserved in a digitalized format for the future generations to benefit.  A good suggestion worth pursuing, of course, with generous help from the dance community.

Guru Banumathi whose brilliant choreographic works stand out for their innovative craft and imagination was an apt recipient of Uday Shankar Choreography Award. Banumathi’s contribution has unfortunately not got the exposure and appreciation which it richly deserves. Attendance award is thus a well deserving honour.

The veteran scholar, nattuvanar and choreographer Guru C Radhakrishna who comes from a distinguished family of dancers and scholars who popularized the Mysore bani of Bharatanatyam was honoured with Rukmini Devi Significant Contribution Award in the field of dance. This octogenarian is another personality who has not got his due.

Vimala Rangachar, Bangalorean whose patronage of dancers and dance was honoured with the Maya Rao Lifetime Achievement Award, said she usually shied away from all awards but had come to accept this as it was named after her dear friend Guru Maya Rao who passed away a few months ago. This award was co-presented by Maya Rao’s daughter and celebrated dancer of Bengaluru, Madhu Natraj who also read out all the citations.

Banumathi, Anita Ratnam, Aniruddha Knight, Guru C Radhakrishna, Vimala Rangachar

All the award winners made brief speeches and Ashish, the good organizer that he is, saw to it that the function went as per schedule and without any glitches. A brief film on each of the awardees was shown while introducing them. Mr. Chiranjeev Singh, former additional chief secretary of Karnataka, who is also the president of Alliance Francaise said the space at Alliance was always open to dancers and music lovers and spoke in praise of each of the award winners.

Ulagnathan is former senior editor of Indian Express, who writes on arts, especially dance.