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`Kalidas Samman' for Chandralekha

CHENNAI OCT. 18. The national Kalidas Samman in dance for 2003-04 has been conferred on Chennai-based dancer/choreographer Chandralekha. The award with a cash prize of Rs.1 lakh was announced last week in Bhopal by the Department of Culture, Government of Madhya Pradesh.

A Bharatanatyam soloist of the 1950s, Chandralekha (75), is acknowledged to be a pioneer of a tradition-inspired contemporary dance movement, which has given a new profile for Indian dance nationally and internationally.

Chandralekha is the sixteenth recipient of the prestigious Kalidas Samman. Set up in 1980 the award, which was conferred for music and dance in alternate years, became an individual award in 1985. Later two more awards in theatre and painting were added.

After Rukmini Devi Arundale received the first Kalidas Samman for dance in 1983, some of the most important dancers and dance `gurus' of India have been conferred the award. They include Birju Maharaj and Sitara Devi (Kathak), Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra (Odissi), Guru Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma (Kuchipudi), Ammanur Madhava Chakyar (Kudiyattam), Shanta Rao and Kalyanikutty Amma (Mohiniattam).

Many of the earlier awardees happen to be from Chennai. These include, besides Rukmini Devi, Padma Subrahmanyam, K.P. Kittappa and Kalanidhi Narayanan (all Bharatanatyam) and Vempati Chinna Satyam (Kuchipudi).

The five-member committee that selected Chandralekha for the award this year included dancers, Kumudini Lakhia and Ranjana Gauhar, besides officials of the Sangeet Natak Akademi and critics.

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