Leela Samson appointed as Visiting Professor in Dance at Liverpool Hope University
Milapfest is delighted to confirm that the internationally acclaimed Bharatanatyam artist, teacher and choreographer, Ms Leela Samson will begin work as the first Visiting Professor in classical Indian dance at Liverpool Hope University from 21st October 2013.
In recent years, Liverpool Hope University and Milapfest have forged a strong partnership with the shared goal of strengthening and enhancing the education and performance of Indian music and dance in the UK. This appointment will undoubtedly create new momentum, synergy and profile for Indian dance in Britain.
Milapfest has ambitious plans to expand the provision of Indian dance training in Britain for both teachers and students, with the aim of building a community that can support and nurture Indian dance talent in the UK.
Prashant Nayak, Executive Director of Milapfest says “We welcome this very important and welcome appointment and look forward to working closely with Leela Samson and Liverpool Hope University in the years ahead”.
Rachel Sweeney, Senior Lecturer and Subject Leader in Dance at Liverpool Hope University, says “The Dance Drama and Performance Department at Liverpool Hope University welcomes their new Visiting Professor in Dance, Leela Samson this term. Leela Samson is a highly renowned choreographer and dance artist whose international reputation extends across the wider professional arts community. Ms Samson’s own practice is steeped in the classical Indian dance tradition of Bharatanatyam and the department is delighted to have a world expert in this field to participate in a range of professional and pedagogic activities. In particular, Ms Samson will feed into the ongoing undergraduate courses in Dance and Cultural Identity, delivering master classes and performance presentations for our students and staff.
Professor Nicholas Rees, Dean of Arts and Humanities, also welcomed the recent appointment of Professor Leela Samson. He notes that “Professor Samson is a distinguished international dancer and academician, who until recently served as Director of the Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai, which is dedicated to preserving Indian traditional arts. Professor Samson, who is an expert in the Kalakshetra technique, will work closely with students and colleagues in the Department of Drama, Dance and Performance, as well as being part of the University and Milapfest’s joint venture in creating an International Centre for Indian Arts at Liverpool Hope”.
Leela Samson is among India’s most dynamic and technically brilliant dancers, an outstanding representative of Kalakshetra, the famed institute for the classical arts founded by the late Rukmini Devi Arundale on the Chennai ocean front. Leela joined Kalakshetra as a young child and her formative years were spent learning the nuances of Bharata Natyam and related arts at the feet of celebrated gurus. Over years of independent work, her dance has metamorphosed from the best of her alma mater into an exquisite personal expression.
Leela’s performances are popular all over India and many countries of Europe, Africa and the Americas. Her personal style is unostentatious, serene and characterized by an impeccable technique that blends geometrical precision with vibrancy and an unfettered ease. Her rhythmic acumen is apparent in dance compositions containing varied and challenging percussion patterns.
Leela has choreographed a number of group and solo compositions in Bharata Natyam. One of her major choreographic productions, Spanda, was performed to high critical and audience acclaim and hailed as a seminal work. She has trained many accomplished students who are now teachers in their own right. She has authored several articles as well as the book, Rhythm in Joy.
Among the many honours conferred on her, Leela Samson was awarded the prestigious Padmashri by the President of India in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the art of Bharata Natyam as well as the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award instituted by the apex cultural body of the Government of India.
She held the position of Director of Kalakshetra, Chennai, founded by Rukmini Devi Arundale from 2005 to 2013 and currently the Chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi & the Indian Film Censor board.