Leela Samson

Leela Samson

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Category: Art

Leela Samson Profile

  • Name:
  • Leela Samson
  • Father:
  • Benjamin Abraham Samson
  • Mother:
  • Laila

Leela Samson Biography

Leela Samson is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer, instructor and writer. She trains students at Shriram Bhartiya Kala Kendra in Delhi for many years. As a soloist she is known for her technical virtuosity. Currently she is the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification since 2011. She is also the director of Kalakshetra since 2005 and chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Akademi since 2010. In 2009 she received Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Bharatanatyam. Indian government has honoured her with Padma Shri in the year 1990. Currently she is associated with the dance troupe, Spanda since 1995.


Leela was born in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu in 1951. She is the daughter of Vice-Admiral (Ret) Benjamin Abraham Samson and Laila. Her father belongs to Jewish Bene-Israelite community and her mother is a Roman Catholic. She started formal training in Bharatnatyam after her graduation. She learnt this art form from Kalakshetra under its founder, Rukmini Devi Arundale. Her biopic on her guru, Rukmini Devi Arundale is very famous. Later she learnt from Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, both from Delhi. In 1995, Leela Samson formed Spanda, a dance group to review the traditional vocabulary of Bharatanatyam and she has been associated with this troupe till now.


Sanchari and The Flowering Tree are two documentaries made on her dancing career. Joyce Paul Poursabahian and Justin McCarthy are her noted disciples. Kamaljit Bhasin Maalik (Meeto), Jin Shan Shan (Eesha), Navtej Singh Johar and Anusha Subramanyam are other leading names. She became the director of Kalakshetra, Chennai in April 2005 and held the post till April 2012. She has been a member of Sangeet Natak Akademi for several years and in August 2010, she was appointed as its chairperson.

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Updated: December 24, 2013

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