INDIA. Mumbai: Acclaimed dancer and Mohiniattam exponent Padmbhushan Dr Kanak Rele passed away in KLS Memorial Hospital at Vile Parle West in North West Mumbai on Wednesday morning, following a brief illness, family sources said.
She was 85 and is survived by her husband Yatindra Rele, son Rahul, daughter-in-law Uma, and two grandchildren.
Ailing for over a week, Dr. Kanak Rele was admitted to the hospital, where she breathed her last around 7.30 a.m., hospital sources stated.
Born in Gujarat on June 11, 1937, to her parents Shivdas and Madhuri, Dr Kanak Rele spent a part of her childhood in Shantiniketan in Kolkata. She began learning the Kathakali dance at the tender age of seven from her Guru, Panchali Karunakara Panicker.
After conducting detailed research into the dance forms from ancient texts, Dr. Kanak Rele developed her own style of Mohiniyattam, which was known as the “Kanak Rele School.” She revived and popularised the dance form, adding a scientific temper and academic rigour to the art.
Dr. Kanak Rele later set up the Nalanda Dance Research Center and the Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya at Vile Parle West and trained many students.
Later, she pursued her academics to qualify as a lawyer from Mumbai and in international law from the UK, besides holding a doctorate in dance from the University of Mumbai.
In her long and illustrious dance career spanning nearly eight decades, Dr. Kanak Rele was honoured with the Padma Shri (1989), Padma Bhushan (2013), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1994), Kalidas Samman (2006), M. S. Subbulakshmi Award, and other accolades.
Condoling her demise, Maharashtra Governor Ramesh Bais described Dr. Kanak Rele as a “Nritya Tapaswini,” one of the finest exponents of Mohiniattam and Kathakali, who dedicated her entire life to the cause of promotion, propagation, and research of Indian classical dance forms.
“Dr. Rele made fundamental contributions to the field of dance through her Nalanda Dance Research Center and the Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya.” “She trained hundreds of students and brought classical dance close to the people,” Bais said.
Her mortal remains were kept at Nalanda to enable her well-wishers to pay homage. Later, the final rites were performed at a crematorium near Pawan Hans Limited, a company near Juhu Aerodrome.
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