Pioneer in the revival of Mohini Attam.
energetic, robust and on the move. Meet dance-scholar and Padmashree award winner Dr. Kanak Rele who, at 61, is still at her youthful
and beautiful best. Known as a pioneer (ess) in the revival of Mohini Attam, the ancient dance style of Kerala, Dr. Rele continues to
ceaselessly strive to rejuvenate Mohini Attam and introduce new and richer dimensions to the field of academics and research in
Her association with dance goes back to childhood when a desire to learn something other than Bharat Natyam
brought her in touch with Mohini Attam. Enamoured by the lyrical grandeur of this dance form, Dr. Rele, with the strong moral support
of her husband, travelled to Kerala to unearth the mystics of Mohini Attam. In Kerala, she was met with a fair amount of resistance -
it was unthinkable back then for a North Indian to pursue a dance form that belonged to an insular state. "But once I get hold of
something, I don`t let go", says Dr. Rele. It wasn`t difficult for the fiery dancer to make in-roads and win total
Today, her name is synonymous with Mohini Attam. Although a qualified lawyer by profession with research in
International Law from Manchester University, UK, Dr. Rele, also holds a Ph.D. in Mohini Attam from Mumbai University.
In a career
spanning 30 years, Dr. Rele has created an authoritative repertoire on Mohini Attam, which involved an extensive tour of Kerala
gathering material from scholars and connoisseurs; filming traditional dances of surviving exponents; analysing the recorded data in
light of the `shastric` tenets and conducting research with noted scholar K.Narayana Panikkar.
In 1967, she founded the Nalanda
Dance Research Centre, now recognised by the Ministry of Science and Technology and known as a premier institution for education and
research in dance internationally. The Centre provides formal academic education and its different departments for post-doctoral and
Thanks to her efforts, in 1972, the University of Mumbai introduced the
Bachelor, Master and Ph.D. degrees in Fine Arts (Dance). She is also the founder-principal of the renowned college of classical dance,
Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya.
"I am very particular about a dance performance. I expect total dedication and am very
thorough, from the beginning. My students have to be at their best, be it in attire or in movements. Even a hair out of place is not
acceptable. Our dance performances are well appreciated. I then feel it has been worth the effort", says Dr. Rele.
How does she
My stress factor too is minimal as I have a knack for dealing with all kinds of people", she adds serenely.