The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Classical Indian dancer Menaka Thakkar nabs $30,000 Walter Carsen Prize

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OTTAWA - Renowned classical Indian dancer Menaka Thakkar has won this year's Canada Council Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts.

The founder and artistic director of the Menaka Thakkar Dance Company in Toronto nabbed the $30,000 honour on Tuesday.

Named after Toronto businessman and philanthropist Walter Carsen, the award honours Canadian artists who have spent the major part of their career at home working in dance, theatre or music.

The Canada Council for the Arts administers the prize, usually annually on a four-year cycle: dance, theatre, dance, music.

A peer assessment committee choose Thakkar as this year's winner, citing her "remarkable career as an expert proponent of Indian Classical dance forms."

"She has also had tremendous impact as a performer, a choreographer, a collaborator with other dance forms and as the founder of a world-renowned dance school and company," committee members Lynda Gaudreau, Jay Hirabayashi and Joysanne Sidimus said in a statement.

Thakkar is also principal choreographer at her large ensemble dance company, which she founded in 1978 and has since toured around the world.

She is also founder of Nrtyakala Canadian Academy of Indian Dance, Canada's first full-scale Indian dance school.

Her choreographies have offered variations on traditional or classical Indian dance forms and incorporated contemporary and fusion elements.

Thakkar currently teaches Indian dance at Canada's National Ballet School.

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