Chennai-based dancer, choreographer and teacher Revathi Ramachandran, a maestro of the Melattur style of Bharatanatyam, is tipped to be the new Director of the prestigious Kalakshetra Foundation. Incidentally, the institute has been without a head for the past 10 months ever since the tenure of its director Priyadarshini Govind ended in mid-2017. Govind’s tenure was preceded by that of Leela Samson. Currently, former CEC Gopalaswami is the chairman of the governing body.
Sources in the Ministry of Culture confirm Ramachandran’s appointment letter has already been dispatched. When contacted by The Indian Express, she said, “I am yet to receive the joining letter; I won’t be able to comment till then.”
A few days ago, representatives of the alumni association of Kalakshetra met Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma and expressed concern over the state of affairs at the institution. The group batted for a greater role for the alumni in functioning of the institution. Kalakshetra Alumni Association is a registered body representing 400 distinguished alumni of Kalakshetra, comprising Padma awardees, Sangeet Natak Akademi awardees, and internationally recognised artistes.
Bharatanatyam artiste and bureaucrat Ananda Shankar Jayant, a member of the alumni association, said, “The 80-year-old organisation has such strong and celebrated alumni across the world, why choose people from outside?” She adds, “Even if the Chairman is from outside, the Director should be from among the alumni. There should be a re-look at the recruitment rules, which currently are quite blatant.”
Based in Chennai, the academy was founded in January 1936 by Rukmini Devi Arundale. In January 1994, an Act of the Parliament of India recognised the Kalakshetra Foundation as an “Institute of National Importance.” Notable alumni include Radha Burnier, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, Sanjukta Panigrahi, CV Chandrasekhar and Adyar K Lakshman.
Swagata Pillai, another member of the alumni association, who is based in Malaysia, says, “Here was a woman who was offered to be the President of India (Rukmini Arundale) but she refused and said that others can run the country and I will run this school (Kalakshetra). Why can’t they find a capable person from among the alumni to run it?”