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ALAP Mumbai Awards 2020: By Artistes for Artistes
Photos: Suresh Muraleedharan

April 3, 2020

Kathak at the Art of Living Academy of Performing Arts (ALAP), which was launched in Mumbai, completed its 5th anniversary this year in collaboration with the NCPA Mumbai Dance Season. In 2018, both NCPA and ALAP launched their dance seasons with events spread over Mumbai spanning performances by maestros and students, workshops on dance, talks and discussions on Shastra and sessions on allied arts like makeup, music and videography.

ALAP Kathak Mumbai has been graced by Kathak maestros like Pt Birju Maharaj, Pratap Pawar, Dr. Puru Dadheech, Saswati Sen and many others. Started under the aegis of spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravishankar, ALAP strives to bring about holistic approach to Kathak performance and pedagogy, maintaining deep spiritual roots. Under the directorship of Dr. Manikantan Menon, ALAP Mumbai features a Kathak Reference Library curated by Paullumi Mukherjee, Kathak ensemble coordinated by Sunil Sunkara, authentic Kathak training at the grassroots level by Gayatri Bhat and specialized training for hearing impaired students by Tejas Mehr Desai. While there is always an ongoing debate about how artistes from other metros are ignored by Delhi, ALAP Mumbai decided to answer this question by starting a unique award series that celebrated the work of Mumbai artistes. The jury was a panel of young and senior Kathak artistes from Mumbai.

Instituted in the name of Guru Sri Sri Ravishankar, four unique categories of awards were created - NRITYA RAVI for upcoming soloists below the age of 30, KALA RAVI for those below the age of 40 expanding the boundaries of Kathak, VIDYA RAVI for those below the age of 55 who have left a mark on Kathak pedagogy and finally KALA PRACHAAR RAVI for artistes who are striving to preserve and promote art.

Nidhi Prabhu

Sandhya Purecha & Ayan Banerjee

Nritya Ravi Samman 2020 was given to Nidhi Prabhu and Ayan Banerjee, both rising stars making their mark as Kathak soloists internationally. Nidhi is taking forward the legacy of her Gurus Dr. Manjiri Deo and Pt Mukundraj Deo and her performances are knows for authenticity and virtuosity with a perfect balance of speed and delicacy. Ayan is taking forward the legacy of his teacher Sandip Mallick and mentors Saswati Sen and Pt. Birju Maharaj. His innovative and unique approach to Kathak strikes a subtle balance between the traditional and contemporary aspects of the art form.

Kala Ravi Samman 2020 was given to Lalita Soni, Karan Kishan and Karan Bakshi. Lalita Soni through her body of work has succeeded in expanding the boundaries of Kathak and making her mark on stage as well as screen through her forays into television, films and reality format dance shows. Lalita combines the essence of Kathak with vibrant folk forms as well as popular music forms with a synergy that is unique to Mumbai's cultural ethos. Her work is a testament to her masters, folk legend Indumate Lele, Bollywood maestro Saroj Khan and Kathak legends Asha Joglekar and Pt. Birju Maharaj.

Lalita Soni

Asavari Pawar & Karan Kishan

Karan Kishan, a young artiste with a wide spectrum of creativity, is known for authentic and popular dance dramas and choreographies presented by his institution 'Divine Arts and Motion Studios'. The works directed by him retain the essence of spirituality, delivered with a contemporary outlook. Karan Bakshi, as a videographer/editor with Indian Raga, has post produced over 100 classical music and dance videos in the last two years. His work has changed the perspective of classical dance presentation in the social media format. He supports a number of independent artistes and underprivileged students through education based initiatives.

Guru Manisha Jeet was awarded the Vidya Ravi Samman for her contribution to Kathak education. In the past 25 years, she has trained more than 200 students who have made their mark in the field of Kathak in India and globally. Her organization, the Manas Cultural Institute, has more than 100 awards to its credit, a hallmark to her standard of excellence. A prime disciple of Guru Asha Joglekar, she embodies the dynamic essence of Mumbai and brings innovation into imparting Kathak to the next generation.

Sunil Sunkara with Karan & Priya Bakshi

Shibani Sachdeva & Manisha Jeet

Bhavna Shah was awarded the Vidya Ravi Samman 2020 for her contribution to Kathak Education and Academic Administration. An art catalyst, her skills as an administrator and curator have reflected in the success of all organizations she is a part of. As the Production Executive for Sarfojiraje Bhosale Centre, Executive Director of Kala Parichaya, Chief Administrative Executive of Bharata College of Fine Arts & Culture and Director of the NGO Tejas Foundation, she has been instrumental in fortifying the pursuit of academic excellence. The coming decades will see a revolution in the academic pursuit of Kathak and Bhavna Shah has established herself as a pioneer in making Mumbai ready for this future.

The Kala Prachaar Ravi Samman 2020, a unique award instituted by ALAP was conferred on Guru Kashmira Trivedi for her contribution to Art Preservation, Propagation and Promotion through print and online media through her dynamic efforts at The Dance India magazine. She continuously strives to unite artistes together as well as support unknown artistes by bringing them to the forefront. Her continuous efforts in Mumbai have brought together artistes to celebrate art through monthly programs.

Gayatri Bhat, Bhavna Shah & Paullumi Mukherjee

Charushila Golam & Kashmira Trivedi

The award ceremony was held at Nath Gagangiri Ashram in South Mumbai, a venue that was surrounded by the flowing ocean on one side and trees and temples on the other. The Ashram has been an active venue for dance as well as meditation programs helmed by senior Art of Living faculty Shibani Sachdeva. The ceremony was graced by Dr. Sandhya Purecha, Kathak exponent and ALAP mentor Guru Ranjana Phadke, Kathak dancer Asavari Pawar (daughter of ALAP mentor Pratap Pawar), and Charushila Golam (co-founder of Lavni Mahasangh, Mumbai).

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