To launch its Golden Jubilee Celebrations, the artists and staff of Darpana announced the setting up of The Mrinalini Sarabhai Award for Excellence in Classical Dance. This yearly award with a rotating trophy created by Ratilal Kansodaria carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh and will be given annually to a dancer between the ages of 40 and 50, in any field of classical dance. An eminent jury consisting of Kelucharan Mohapatra, Darshana Jhaveri, Raman Kutty Nair, Kumudini Lakhia, Kanak Rele, Mrinalini and Mallika Sarabhai selects the recipient. In December 1999, the first award went to Sivan Namboodri for his contribution to Koodiyattam.

Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri is a fine exponent of Koodiyattam, the ancient Sanskrit drama that has been in existence for more than 1800 years. There is no other dance theatre art in India that has endured so long presenting the plays of Bhasa, Kulasekhara, Raja Harsha and Raja Mahendravikram Varma. Sivan Namboodiri broke tradition as he was a Namboodiri brahmin (the first non-chakyar) and not allowed to participate in the dramas. His love of the art, his endurance against tremendous odds, his tireless persistence has now made him an outstanding exponent.

Sangeet Natak Akademi, the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama was established by a resolution of the Ministry of Education, Government of India, dated 31 May 1952. The first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, inaugurated it on 28 January 1953.

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