The Kalakshetra controversy


April 30, 2007
Over the past few months, rumours have been circulating vicious rumours about my alma mater KALAKSHETRA. The allegations have been severe and unrestrained against its new director, Leela Samson. These rumours were strengthened through e-mails that were sent out to hundreds of people in the dance community all over India.

Finally, Leela Samson has replied. In a communication to VR Devika, writer and activist, Ms Samson has expressed her anguish and sorrow at "the enemy within." What we are reproducing in this section is the correspondence between Leela Samson and VR Devika which was, in turn, dispatched as an e-mail announcement from Prakriti Foundation on April 30, 2007.

The information is valuable to all dancers and those who care about the inspiration that created one of our premier art institutions in this country. The plight of similar institutions like Kalamandalam and Shantiniketan has diminished after the time of their visionary founders. Kalakshetra has not stamped India's history through cultural practice, but it stands for many more ideals independence, courage, secularism and a genuine safe space for ideas and creativity.

When Kalakshetra was slowly but surely fading away, Ms Samson has injected a new spirit and dynamism which I personally witnessed over the last two December season festivals.

I remember the morning interfaith prayers as a student under the banyan tree and how that was the best part of my memories almost bolstering me before the grueling adavu classes of guru Sarada Hoffman.

Kalakshetra is in danger. Not of a physical demolition. But of a dismantling of its very foundation. It is time to put aside our own personal feelings and voice our support for this remarkable institution and its director.

Thank you
Anita R Ratnam

e-mail announcement from Prakriti Foundation on April 30, 2007

Responses to "Anti-Hindu activities at Kalakshetra, Chennai" by P Deivamuthu dated April 8, 2007 (Also found under the title "Demolishing a tradition at Kalakshetra")