10th October 2015
For current news see news about the arts in 2015
In this page we present some of the news archives from the old Arts in Leicester website, included here where they have relevance to current articles published in this magazine.
8th January 2013
Nilima Devi is Awarded MBE
Nilima Devi Menski, the founder and Artistic Director of the Centre for Indian Classical Dance (CICD), in Leicester, has been announced as a recipient of an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2013 for her services to dance.
The award has been granted in recognition of Nilima Devi’s sustained commitment to promoting Indian dance for British arts, multicultural education and community cohesion for over 30 years.
Leicester’s councillor and former Mayor, Manjula Sood said “I am very thrilled to hear that Nilima’s work within the cultural community has been noticed and rewarded.”
Chris Maughan, Associate Research Fellow Lecturer, Arts and Festival Management, De Montfort University commented, “it is richly deserved. Let’s hope it provides a foundation for invigorating ideas and energy in arts development more broadly.”
Under Nilima Devi’s leadership, CICD has made significant educational and artistic contributions through numerous workshops, conferences, classes and public performances on local, regional and national scales. In addition to nurturing more than 20,000 students in Indian dance through teaching in schools, Nilima Devi has pioneered projects such as Sinjini (2009), a DVD on Indian music and dance produced using UK-based artists, and Karman, (2012), a book documenting the living history of arts in the South Asian diaspora, which have become invaluable resources for educational establishments.
Nilima Devi has also produced many major performance works such as the Ugly Duckling (1989), Triangle (1991), Rainbow (1993) (choreographed by Kumudini Lakhia), Melory (1995), Dances of the Spheres (1999) (choreographed by Roshan Date), Flaming Feet (2000), Kathak Tells a Story (2001), Images (2004) and Urjah (2007), which have contributed to transcending cultural and artistic boundaries whilst retaining the spirit of Indian dance.
In addition, Nilima Devi has trained several accomplished British-born dance artists, such as Aakash Odedra, who has been touring Rising with the British Council in India and internationally, a solo production choreographed by Russell Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Akram Khan.
The MBE is to be presented by the Queen at a special ceremony to be held at Buckingham Palace in London in 2013.
[From Arts in Leicestershire, news section, 2013]
Karman: groundbreaking heritage project tells the story of Indian Classical Dance
By Asian Arts Editor [the late] Harjinder Ohbi
It was 30 years ago when Nilima Devi, an Indian classical Kathak dancer threw open her doors to a handful of young girls wanting to learn this intricate but colourful dance form.
This gave birth to CICD (Centre for Indian Classical Dance.) Parents eager to revisit their own Indian roots encouraged their children to join the classes. Later, as years passed by, these students went onto become mothers and teachers, having made the gruelling grades, passing on their knowledge to third and fourth generations.
CICD led the way for visiting professional dancers from Bharatnatyam and Odissa holding masterclasses whilst Nilima also introduced folk, street and bollywood dances, as demanded by youngsters.
Numerous groundbreaking shows at various local and National venues gave way to young male dancers who went onto become International artists. Akram Khan and Akaash Odedra brought forth a new dimension to Kathak with their innovative styles and fluidity within their choreography, earning rave reviews where ever they performed.
It is no surprise then that the year long 30th anniversary celebrations of CICD last year was to lead to Karman the book. Karman literally means a collection of past work .You will find interviews with young performers and how they have managed to incorporate their traditional dance forms during their daily lives and what it means to them.It is an historic account documenting not only achievements based on over 70 hours of oral history interviews by a host of voluntary historians aided by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The books theme also explores the social changes related to these developments thus presenting a unique piece of history that has never been exhibited in Leicester before. Karman is a project very special for me as it explores the living history of Indian classical dance in the UK. It exhibits the roots of Indian classical dance and music through contributions by early pioneers, professional dancers, musicians, members of the community and art lovers.
There were several aspects to the formation of CICD from spirituality, keeping fit and bringing one’s culture, mind, body and soul together. The opening of the Centre, in 1981, came as a blessing for the young women eager to learn Indian classical dance.
They later introduced Indian Folk styles. It was not always easy to make CICD sustainable at times but they made it happen through performances and sheer passion shown by the youngsters. Whilst the support of Local Authorities and the Arts Council England made it possible to work within local schools and communities, that helped them to create a greater interest, reaching a wider public.
Many of the students have gone onto become teachers whilst the likes of Akram Khan and Aakash Odedra have won International acclaim. I feel theirs is an extension of the form of Kathakand, a modern way of interpreting it. “Traditional art is not static, it moves with the times”, concluded Nilima Devi, Artistic Director of CICD.
The official book launch and exhibition [was] staged at the LCB Depot on 14 June 2012
The touring exhibition opened at the Embrace Centre (11th-27th May 2012) and [was] staged at the following venues:
Peepul Centre, 28th May – 8th June
LCB Depot, 11th – 22nd June
Hamilton Library, 03 July – 17th July
St.Barnabas Library, 17th – 30th July
South Fields Library, 31 July – 15 August
BBC Radio Leicester 01 – 17 October
CurveTheatre, 8 – 19 November
Highfiields Library, 19 – 30 November