Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Leela Samson quits as Kalakshetra director

By Sruti

The dance world has been agog for the last month with news of Leela Samson’s resignation as Kalakshetra director, followed by much speculation in the press about the circumstances leading to it and widespread demands in the community for her return to her position at the head of the institution.

Questions said to have been raised against her crossing the “prescribed” age of 60 and alleged procedural lapses in the decision-making process involving appointments and expenditure have been cited as the background for Leela’s resignation.

Praised for her several initiatives to expand the reach of Kalakshetra, transform its infrastructure and increase and refurbish its performance spaces, Leela has also been criticised for the same deeds. She has spoken of pressures and challenges through her seven-year tenure, and all of it has been written and spoken about extensively in the last month. Artists have expressed the view that she is irreplaceable as the institution’s head, while some have questioned the wisdom of fixing age-limits to such positions, and even scoffed at the idea of an artist being questioned on the basis of “procedural niceties”.

We are awaiting Leela Samson’s reply to our questions emailed to her, while Kalakshetra chairman Gopalkrishna Gandhi replied to our email on the subject as follows:

“… I have been getting shoalfuls of mail from enraged friends and colleagues and
rasika-s of Leela. I understand their feelings completely.

I have called a meeting of the Board to discuss the whole matter.

On my part I have felt that her resignation was a right and proper thing.

That does not take away from the fact that she is and will always be respected as a great Director for Kalakshetra to have had, who can be succeeded but never replaced.

I also believe that before long her association with Kalakshetra will revive in capacities appropriate for that time and enriching for the institution in ways we cannot anticipate now.”

Sruti carried a major feature on Kalakshetra and Leela Samson in May 2008 (Sruti 283).

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