Indian classical dancer, choreographer and teacher Menaka Thakkar is the 2012 winner of the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts administered by the Canada Council for the Arts. The award coincides with another major milestone for Thakkar – forty years of practicing and teaching classical Indian dance in Canada. She first gave workshops and performances in Canada in 1972 and then immigrated permanently soon after, opening her school of Indian dance, Nrtyakala, and forming the Menaka Thakkar Dance Company. A pioneer of Indian dance in Canada, Thakkar is also the first dance artist from a non-western practice to receive the Walter Carsen Prize. The Canada Council for the Arts defines the award as recognizing “the highest level of artistic excellence and distinguished career achievement by Canadian artists who have spent the major part of their career in Canada in dance, theatre or music.” Thakkar and her company will perform at the award presentation on October 20th, 2012.