attenDANCE Awards 2016

December 23, 2016

The season of awards is here. Titles galore. Natya this, nritya that. In the cacophony of sound and show, the attenDANCE annual awards stand out for being different. attenDANCE is India's only yearbook on dance, nearing two decades of publication by Ashish and Elisabeth Khokar. For past five years, they have also instituted five dance honours that remember some of the dance greats and helps those receiving it,  further their art form.  

The awards carry no purse or shining shawls that cannot be worn ever again. Instead designer stoles are made by NID talents, first Gito for two years, now her disciple Sandhya Raman, settled in Delhi. The plaques are designed by Rajkumar Chetty and the whole ceremony is conducted by the Khokars, who are its chief patrons. Former Chief Secretary of Karnataka, Chiranjiv Singh, is the chairman of the jury that selects these awardees.                                                                                                 

Photo: Saroj Kumar Mishra

In the past, the following names have been awarded for various awards named after iconic dance personalities. Ram Gopal Best Male Soloist Award went to Satyanarayana Raju, Rahul Acharya, Sanjay Shantaram, Sheejith Krishna and this year to Ottanthullal artiste Suresh Kaliyath. Mohan Khokar Overall Excellence in Dance or documentation went to Praveen Kumar, Madhu Nataraj, Anita Ratnam, Gowri Ramnarayan and this year to Janaki Srinivasan of Sruti. (Owing to cyclone Vardah, she could not travel from Chennai to Bangalore).

Uday Shankar Award for Choreography has been given to Murali Mohan Kalva, Syed Sallaudin Pasha, Jayachandran Pallazhy, Mayuri and Madhuri Upadhya and none this year. Rukmini Devi Significant Contribution Award has been given to gurus MV Krishnamurthy, Mysore Radhakrishnan, Bhanumati, Radha Shridhar and this year to Dr. Choodamani Nandagopal. Nataraj - Shakuntala or alternatively U.S. Krishna Rao - Chandrabhaga Dance Couple Award has been given to Anuradha - Shridhar, Nirupama - Rajendra and this year to Tushar - Puja Bhatt. This award is alternated with Lifetime Achievement Award, as often, every year worthy candidates for both are difficult to find. Maya Rao Lifetime Achievement Award has been given to first guru Maya Rao herself, then Vimala Rangachar and to Usha Venkateshwaran this year.

Age group for first two awards is 40-60, for next two 50-70 and for last, above 80. Only younger, under 60 age group, gets residency abroad. Praveen Kumar and Madhu Nataraj have been to Italy, Murali Mohan group to Sweden, and Rahul Acharya to Brazil. Those who cannot be sent abroad get three shows within India in places they have not performed before. This way their art reaches far and wide. Seniors above 60 get documented through a film or biography, so it makes a difference to their art and life.

attenDANCE awards start with live performance by those awardees who wish to share their art with a distinguished audience and then a short film is shown on their work. After the ceremony all bond at a simple dinner. Each year a star name gives away the award - maestro L. Subramaniam one year, iconic Vyjayanthimala last year and this year, T.J.S. George.  attenDANCE awards are now established as benchmark awards in the field of Indian dance. This year’s award function took place on December 14, 2016 at Alliance Francaise, Bangalore.