The revered classical Indian dancer Menaka Thakkar is the 2012 recipient of the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts, and I took part in a splendid celebration of her life and work the evening of October 20th at the Flato Markham Theatre, just north of Toronto.
Eloquent appreciations of Menaka’s accomplishments were delivered by a magnificent array of civic and cultural leaders, and Menaka, whose masterful solo performance concluded the evening, shared beautiful and stirring memories of the most significant influences in her artistic life.
Expressing gratitude as deep and sincere as that reserved for her guru, her protégés, and her beloved family, Menaka remembered the immigration official who talked her into the idea of applying for landed immigrant status rather than renewing a temporary visa. This man had told Menaka that Canada needed people like her, that he wanted to see her dance. Menaka has made Canada her home since 1972, and on several occasions the arts loving bureaucrat who won her for us has sent a note of congratulations to her following a performance.