She was a former student of Kalakshetra and had the privilege of being trained under Rukmini Devi. She taught for some years at Kalakshetra and toured all over the world as a member of its dance troupe. Millennium Post caught up with Leela Samson, a respected teacher, choreographer and writer, soon after her performance at Purana Qila in the national Capital.
What makes today’s show a special one?
The idea was to combine India’s most notable classical dance forms with the structural heritage. The Purana Qila presents a poignant background for the performance of India’s most notable classical dance forms. As an artist, dance is the biggest part of my life. I love to perform and I like to create new forms without any bias. And I think same is the case with every artist, they tend to do their job with a lot of fervour and joy without thinking about credits. Events like these, however, give an opportunity to artists like us to show our skills.
After how long are you performing in Delhi?
I am performing in Delhi after 10 years. I last performed in the year 2005. It’s actually good to come back after such a long time.
This show is Delhi government’s first initiative in this field, what do you have to say on that?
It’s basically about worshipping your art and I think that is the strength of India. People here follow their art irrespective of whether the great government of India calls them or not. It doesn’t stop artists from doing the things they have always done. Bismillah Khan sahib was playing the shehnai whether people called him or not. We sweat it out every day. It’s a creative process that cannot stop.
What do you think is the future of classical dance in the country?
Hundreds of people are taking to classical dancing. Many people are putting their children in this art, which is good, but when you have many people, mediocrity sets in. The number has increased with time, but the quality has suffered simultaneously. The teaching quality has gone down and now it’s kind of tenuous. We rejoice the numbers but we mourn the difference between those wonderful one time great performers, who were so soaked up in their art. It’s becoming more shallow and entertainment is now the only priority. But, let’s see, we have faith in the young generation.