Acclaimed danseuse, Mohiniattam exponent Kanak Rele passes away in Mumbai

Mumbai: World-renowned danseuse and exponent Mohiniyattam Kanak Y Rele passed away in a private hospital following a brief illness, here on Wednesday morning, family sources said.

She was 85 and is survived by her husband Yatindra Rele, son Rahul and daughter-in-law Uma, and two grandchildren.

Ailing for over a week, Dr Rele was admitted to a suburban private hospital where she breathed her last around 7.30 am, said the family source.

Condoling her demise, Maharashtra Governor Ramesh Bais described Dr. Rele as a ‘Nritya Tapaswini’, one of the finest exponents of Mohiniyattam and Kathakali who dedicated her entire life to the cause of promotion, propagation and research of Indian classical dance forms.

“Dr Rele made fundamental work in the field of dance through her Nalanda Dance Research Centre and the Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya. She trained hundreds of students and brought classical dance close to the people,” said Bais.

Born in Gujarat and spending a part of her childhood in Kolkata, Dr Rele started learning the Kathakali dance at the tender age of 7, from her Guru Panchali Karunakara Panicker.

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 University of Mumbai.

After conducting detailed research into the dance forms from ancient texts, Dr. Rele developed her own style of Mohiniyattam, which was known as ‘Kanak Rele School,’ revived and popularised the dance form adding a scientific temper and academic rigour to the art.

In her long and illustrious dance career spanning nearly eight decades, Dr. 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.

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