The President of India has honoured her as "A pioneering dance educationist and top most Mohini Attam exponent". For the past 35 years she has ceaselessly strived to rejuvenate the classical dance art Mohini Attam of Kerala. Today her name is synonymous with Mohini Attam. She is a qualified lawyer who has done research in International Law at the University of Manchester U.K. Her Ph.D. at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Mumbai was on Mohini Attam.
Trained initially from a very young age in another Kerala art Kathakali under the late Guru 'Panchali' Karunakara Panikkar, who is regarded as one of the greats for "stree-vesham" in Kathakali, Dr. Kanak has won high acclaim for her rendition of Kathakali as well.
Dr. Kanak is a regular performer at the major festivals in India and abroad. She has toured very extensively both privately and as a representative of the Govt. of India. She is often selected to present and demonstrate papers at the official high - level seminars and conferences. For some years now her troupe of students from Nalanda is also sent on official tours and has won critical acclaim.
Dr. Kanak Rele has scaled more prestigious heights recently. In June she was invited by the world famous Kerala Kalamandalam to present lecture-cum-demonstrations on the classical dance system of abhinaya and its applicability to Mohini Attam. This is a very prestigious assignment. Kerala Kalamandalam has already prescribed Dr. Kanak's two books 'Mohini Attam - The Lyrical Dance' and 'Bhaavanirupana' as textbooks for their degree and post-graduate courses. In her lecture - demonstrations Dr. Kanak highlighted and analysed her own system of projecting various moods by way of the body and facial movements. She also explained the salient features of choreography. She was given an old padam 'Taaraaviraham' which she had never heard of and request to choreograph it by studying it only for 30 minutes that resulted in a brilliantly etched out abhinaya piece with different bhaavas depicted with rare finesse, depth and understanding. She received a standing ovation.
Government of Maharashtra honours people for their life time achievement and contribution to various fields through different cultural agencies. Dr. Kanak Rele has been selected for this year’s award for her contribution to the field of classical dance.
At present she is guiding a number of distinguished persons for Ph.D. studies at the University of Mumbai.
Last year, as the Convenor of the Expert Committee to prepare syllabii for dance courses for the newly established School of Performing and Visual Arts of Indira Gandhi National Open University, Dr. Kanak Rele’s contribution was very significant in providing academically correct direction.