Indian dance ambassador Alpana Sengupta Taylor from Wisbech receives MBE in Queen's Birthday Honours
A Wisbech dance teacher says she is "thrilled" to have been named in the Queen's Birthday Honours List announced last night (Friday).
Aplana Sengupta Taylor, who has lived in the town for the past 11 years with her world-renowned Sitar-playing husband Mick Taylor, has been made an MBE for services to South Asian dance.
Aplana who is a dancer, choreographer and teacher of the classic Indian Kathak dance, has been a pioneering cultural ambassador in the UK for the past 43 years and has performed all over the country - including in front of Prince Charles.
The 67-year-old who hopes to collect her medal at a prestigious palace ceremony later this summer said: "I'm excited, thrilled and nervous all at the same time. I feel really honoured to have been recognised in this way - it means so much to me."
Alpana, who has been dancing Kathak since she was a young child, regularly goes into local schools to teach children about the dance and the culture behind it.
She is desperately hoping husband Mick, who has been battling cancer for the past seven years, will be well enough to accompany her when she goes down to London for the presentation.
"He is not only my husband, my life, but also my partner. It has been a real partnership and we have worked so hard together. He is poorly at the moment, and is having to deal with a lot of chemotherapy, but he is a fighter and I'm sure he will be OK," said Alpana, who is known by her stage name of Alpana Sengupta.
Mick and Alpana, who have one son who lives in Brighton, relocated to Wisbech from Hounslow in 2006 and Alpana says she absolutely loves living in the town.
"We decided we wanted to move some where more in the countryside and we ended up in Wisbech, it has been fantastic. The people are lovely, really friendly and kind.
"I have done a lot of work in schools in the area to try to give something back," she added.
Information released by the Cabinet office in announcing Alapana's honour says: "She has created an interest and following in Kathak from audiences who had never previously seen the dance style. Her performances have received huge praise and fantastic reviews.
"She brought Kathak to the Arts Council’s attention and proved that there is an audience for Indian classical dance, and that public funding was required for Indian classical dance to aid its growth.
"Subsequently many artists have benefited from the funding. She has worked selflessly to increase opportunities available to other South Asian dancers and has built up a network of venues that have a respect for artists of Indian classical music and dance.
" She has taught about the dance form through residencies, workshops, school projects and regular classes for thousands of students in the UK and in Germany."