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Sonal Mansingh gets Lifetime Achievement Award from Attendance
- G Ulaganathan

November 28, 2018

One of the much awaited events in the dance calendar of Bengaluru, the annual Attendance awards night, organised for the past seven years by dance historian and scholar Ashish Mohan Khokar, had two significant changes this year.

One, the venue moved from Alliance Francaise de Bangalore to ADA Rangamandira, the public auditorium. Secondly, the organisation of the awards evening was by Nadam, the brilliant dance group headed by Kathak dancers and gurus, Murali Mohan and Nandini Mehta. Nadam had to share the responsibility as Ashish Khokar has temporarily shifted base to Delhi where he is presently curating his father Mohan Khokar's collection at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Arts which will become the permanent home for the priceless collection.

The function took off on November 25 with a medley of dance display. First it was the rustic Mohini Bhasmasura in Kuchipudi style by the excellent artiste, Dr. Chinta Ravi Balakrishna and then graceful, colourful Kathak by the Nadam ensemble, which included the ever popular 2002 choreographic work Utsav, in celebration of various Indian festivals by the pretty dancers.

The awardees (seated): Parshwanath Upadhye, Dr.BM Sundaram, Dr.Sonal Mansingh, Daksha Sheth, Sucheta Chapekar
Photo: R Padmanaban

This year's Attendance awards were in keeping with the original preamble; they went to those who have 20 years of work behind them and have potential for 20 more, those who are serious, academic and consistent in artistic output, and those who do not chase awards of any kind. The guest of honour for the evening was the violin maestro L Subramaniam who, along with Mr. Chiranjeev Singh, former Ambassador to UNESCO and additional chief secretary to the Government of Karnataka, presented the awards.

Ram Gopal Award for best male dancer was presented to young Bharatanatyam dancer from Bengaluru, Parshwanath Upadhye, Uday Shankar Award for choreography went to Trivandrum based Daksha Sheth while the Rukmini Devi Award for significant contribution to the field of dance was conferred upon the Maharashtra based Bharatanatyam dancer, Dr. Sucheta Chapekar. The prestigious Mohan Khokar Award for dance documentation was given to the octogenarian, Dr. BM Sundaram who was overwhelmed to receive the award in the name of his dear friend Mohan Khokar. Ashish, introducing Dr. Sundaram, made it a point to mention that despite his age, he had travelled all the way to Bengaluru by overnight bus from Puducherry where he presently resides. The loudest applause was reserved for eminent dancer and presently a member of the Rajya Sabha, Dr. Sonal Mansingh, who was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award given in the name of the eminent guru, Dr Maya Rao. Surprisingly, the dancer-MP 'forgot' to mention the name of Maya Rao in her acceptance speech.

These awards carry no customary cheque or shawls. Instead, the awardees are helped to reach out nationally (3 assured shows in parts of India they have never been to) and in one case internationally (internship with a dance company abroad). All the award winners were given time to express their feelings and a powerful point made by Dr. Sucheta Chapekar was that dance and music should be made part of educational curriculum in schools. She made this plea to Sonal Mansingh and requested her to use her position as an MP to get it done and Sonal agreed to do the needful.

Ulaganathan Ganesan is a senior dance critic based in Bengaluru.