Kalakshetra

Classical Dance forms & related music

Kalakshetra

#1  Postby mohan » 30 Apr 2012 08:58

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Re: Kalakshetra

#2  Postby Nick H » 30 Apr 2012 14:50

Dance is not at all my world, but I don't think anybody who has ever encountered Leela Samson can fail to be impressed by her.

Whilst most say that she has done a wonderful job, I'm sure that the bitterness of a handful is hard to live with. I recall some trumped up nonsense from a few years ago: I'm sure there must be many that never make the news.

Hmmm... Aren't they looking for a new president just now? :)
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Re: Kalakshetra

#3  Postby mohan » 01 May 2012 08:14

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Re: Kalakshetra

#4  Postby Nick H » 01 May 2012 13:17

Ah, yes... read this with my morning tea today.

The plot thickens. Looks as if it has been pretty thick all along.
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Re: Kalakshetra

#5  Postby ShrutiLaya » 01 May 2012 18:23

I too know little about dance, nor about Mrs. Leela Samson, who is a very talented artist by all accounts. However, I understand there is a lot of controversy about her attempts to remove Hindu symbolism from Bharatanatyam. See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/religious ... 3336?var=1 for some extracts from "Breaking India" by Rajeev Malhotra. If there is any truth in this, I think it is dangerous to have someone like her as the head of an institution like Kalakshetra.

Actually, I have issues with this whole concept of a "Ministry of Culture" which manages institutions that should be dedicated to the preservation of ancient arts in a "secular manner" and attempts to make these "accessible to all" by removing religious symbolism. Our music and dance is nothing but spiritual and devotional. It is a great disservice and a gross distortion to pretend otherwise, and a travesty to try to remake these centuries old classics in the modern fashion.

- Sreenadh
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Re: Kalakshetra

#6  Postby Nick H » 01 May 2012 18:38

Just going by my sense of smell ... that piece of writing wreaks of prejudice, and is probably typical of the kind of stuff she has had to put up over the years. The extremism shines through: such people don't bother about truth, there are all too many of them around the world, under their various labels.

I wish one of our dance experts would tell us if there is any truth in it. Oddly, I remember something about the idols, and, I think that, if you google, you will find it to be a misrepresentation.

By the way, as all the usual prejudices flood all the usual minds including mine, I found out yesterday that she is not, as I had assumed, Christian. It seems that her background is in what I think of as the other truly ancient religion in the world.

Our music and dance is nothing but spiritual and devotional. It is a great disservice and a gross distortion to pretend otherwise, and a travesty to try to remake these centuries old classics in the modern fashion.
So, you don't think that Pandit Birju Maharaj should be dancing telephone numbers on stage? You don't think there is room for anything else other than religious themes in classical dance?

I'm pleased that someone else showed some interest in this thread. Maybe the title is not explicit enough, but it seemed that the whole event was going to pass undiscussed on rasikas, with the only interest coming from Australia.
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Re: Kalakshetra

#7  Postby mohan » 01 May 2012 18:48

There was a big discussion about this on Narthaki a while ago see http://narthaki.com/info/rt/rt8.html
now the same site has established a petition to keep Ms Samson in the role. http://www.narthaki.com/info/rt/rt48.html
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Re: Kalakshetra

#8  Postby ShrutiLaya » 01 May 2012 18:56

Nick H wrote:So, you don't think that Pandit Birju Maharaj should be dancing telephone numbers on stage? You don't think there is room for anything else other than religious themes in classical dance?


The telephone numbers reference escapes me, but no, I don't think that there is no room for non-religious themes in classical dance. I do think, though, that we need an institution dedicated to preserving the traditional form of Bharatanatyam, with its deeply spiritual, and specifically Hindu, symbolism. And Kalakshetra was founded to do this.

And I agree the piece I quoted (which was the first one that showed up when I googled) does smell. That is the problem with many articles of this type, that their shrillness often takes away from any valid points they're trying to make. I'd welcome comments by knowledgeable persons on this board on whether there is any truth in these allegations.

- Sreenadh
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Last edited by ShrutiLaya on 01 May 2012 19:13, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kalakshetra

#9  Postby ShrutiLaya » 01 May 2012 19:08

Maybe I was wrong and did not do enough digging around .. I found this piece in the Nartaki site (thanks to Mohan) at http://www.narthaki.com/info/rt/rt8a.html where one Vrnda Devi (her post is towards the bottom of the page) makes a strong rebuttal. Well .. who knows ..

- Sreenadh
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Re: Kalakshetra

#10  Postby Nick H » 01 May 2012 19:13

I suspect you may be following a google trail that I too followed a while back!

I am surprised at the lack of contribution, in support or otherwise, on this thread. Whether we are dance people or not, (I'm not), isn't this an institution that matters to us as a community?
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Re: Kalakshetra

#11  Postby vasanthakokilam » 02 May 2012 00:47

Remember the old adage that dispenses a very practical and important advice that a vast majority of the general public do not follow.. kaNNAl pArpadum poi, kAdAl kEtpadum poi...... ( what you see with your eyes is false, what you hear is false...... truth is to be discerned and judged after careful deliberation of all the info... ). In the Google age, we all need to take the oath that "the first link is false", "the audio link is false", "the video link is false" ;) Judge after careful consideration of many sources of information.. This is even more true in this kind of politically and culturally sensitive topics on the internet.
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Re: Kalakshetra

#12  Postby Nick H » 02 May 2012 02:33

Very good point. Be a healthy cynic about everything, online and off
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Re: Kalakshetra

#13  Postby rshankar » 02 May 2012 02:48

Let's not forget that kalAkshEtra is no longer a private institution as it was when Smt. RDA created it. It is now overseen by the GOI. So, who knows what the interactions were between Ms. Sampson and the GOI...IIRC, there were some reservations expressed when Ms. Sampson was appointed to the board of censors...If my opinion matters, it would indeed be the government's and kalAkshEtra's loss if her resignation is accepted.
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Re: Kalakshetra

#14  Postby ardhanariswar » 02 May 2012 06:36

Leela’s no stranger to drama. Even Google’s first suggest result is “Leela Samson controversy.”

It's clear people have been out for blood ever since Leela started as director of Kalakshetra in 2005. First there was that whole drama about Leela displacing Ganesha idols, which the Hindu extremists twisted into an anti-Hindu attack. Then when Leela accepted the positions on the Central Board of Film Certification and Sangeet Natak Akademi, people questioned her ability to perform. And now this.

I'd like to know more about this CS Thomas, a former teacher of Kalakshetra who is weirdly interested in Leela's age. Even though the Union Ministry of Culture supported her, it seemed Leela had enough of the “lies, allegations, and games people play” and resigned anyway.

ShrutiLaya wrote:Actually, I have issues with this whole concept of a "Ministry of Culture" which manages institutions that should be dedicated to the preservation of ancient arts in a "secular manner" and attempts to make these "accessible to all" by removing religious symbolism. Our music and dance is nothing but spiritual and devotional. It is a great disservice and a gross distortion to pretend otherwise, and a travesty to try to remake these centuries old classics in the modern fashion.

- Sreenadh


I don't think Kalakshetra should have an obligation towards preserving Hinduism and "these centuries old classics" because it goes against the very nature of the institution and what Rukmini Devi did. Since the beginning Rukmini made revolutionary changes to the art form, for example drastically modifying the Pandanallur style, removing "objectionable" elements, flaunting the guru-shishya tradition, promoting male dancers, promoting female nattuvanars, etc. It's my understanding that most of Kalakshetra's repertoire is fairly recent. To believe that Rukmini was preserving something is frankly delusional. Do you really think the Brahmin appropriation of the Devadasis' sacred art truly represents our ancient heritage in a non secular manner?

It doesn't matter anyway, there hasn't been evidence to support the Government's attempts secularize Kalakshetra.
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Re: Kalakshetra

#15  Postby mohan » 02 May 2012 10:48

ardhanariswar wrote:
I'd like to know more about this CS Thomas


Doubting Thomas perhaps?
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Re: Kalakshetra

#16  Postby Nick H » 02 May 2012 12:56

His involvement is covered in this link and seems to be connected with getting a job for his daughter.

I'm horribly aware that a post like this, informed by only a snippet from a newspaper article, could, itself, be just a baseless smear :o

To deal with this sort of thing on a regular basis must be frustrating in the extreme for a good administrator; for an artist, it must be soul destroying. She seems to have coped remarkably well
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Re: Kalakshetra

#17  Postby mohan » 02 May 2012 15:21

Not sure of what the management structure at Kalakshetra is but clearly they need some key positions such as Director of Administration
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Re: Kalakshetra

#18  Postby Nick H » 04 May 2012 14:26

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Re: Kalakshetra

#19  Postby mohan » 18 May 2012 07:49

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Re: Kalakshetra

#20  Postby ardhanariswar » 23 May 2012 04:33

Leela Samson gave an interview and discussed in depth over what some of the issues were regarding her decision to leave Kalakshetra.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWBUhkzVoO4 around the 18:00 minute mark.

I found her comments regarding the land mafia very interesting. Thoughts?
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