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Vulgarity a challenge to Indian identity: Kanak

THE VULGARITY shown in the dances in films and music albums has become a challenge to the very concept of Indian identity, says noted Mohiniattam dancer Dr Kanak Rele.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 14:16 IST

THE VULGARITY shown in the dances in films and music albums has become a challenge to the very concept of Indian identity, says noted Mohiniattam dancer Dr Kanak Rele.

“We are facing an identity crisis today”, she said in an informal chat with Hindustan Times. Kanakji will be decorated with the national Kalidas Samman for classical dance by the State Culture Department at Bharat Bhavan on Monday. She has already been honoured with the Padmashri and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

“I started learning Kathakali at the age of five and later took up Mohiniattam. When I took up this dance nearly four decades ago, it was almost on the verge of extinction.”, she said.

A research grant in 1970 from the Ford Foundation enabled her to film the traditional dances of the surviving exponents of Mohiniattam. “Today, this form of dance is in an exuberant shape”, she says.

The danseuse’s deep study of the dynamics of Indian dancing has resulted in the theory of “Body Kinetics in Dance” which elucidates the body movements in dance.

“Mohiniattam is a very lyrical dance and you need a strong back structure for it” Her dance therapy has widely used dance-based movements as a therapy for physically challenged children. “We have used it but only under the supervision of specialists who are able to identify the nerves.”

In this type of therapy a dis-coordination evolves into coordination, she adds. Kanakji founded the Nalanda Dance Research Centre, which is a premier institution for education and research in dance.

“Through this institute I strive to preserve the traditional classical dances in their formal purity and rejuvenate the training methods to meet the scientific demands.”

On her other work she said, “I have evolved a set of exercises to make the body a-tuned to even the most difficult kinetics of Mohiniattam”.

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 14:16 IST