Renowned Rabindra Sangeet singer Rezwana Choudhury Bannya’s continuation as Dhaka University dance department chairperson for four years draws criticism from dancers.
Despite having many famous dancers, they said, Bannya’s continuation as founding chairperson of the sole dance department since 2013 sent a wrong message about the country’s dance arena.
Former Dhaka University music department teacher Bannya, also Rabindra Sangeet graduate from Visva-Bharati University, was appointed dance department chairperson with the status of a professor flouting recommendation of the university-formed academic committee in 2010, university teachers alleged.
A member of the committee, preferring anonymity, told New Age that they suggested formation of the dance department with an eminent dancer as the chair.
Leaders of Bangladesh Nritya Shilpi Sangstha, a platform of dancers, said they had recommended two renowned dancers with good academic results from Indian universities for the position.
Ekushey Padak-winning dancer Amanul Haque, also Nritya Shilpi Sangstha adviser, said, ‘I do not understand why the university authorities appointed an eminent singer as the chairperson of dance department ignoring recommendations made by academic committee and us.’
‘We felt frustrated and the sole dance department in the country should not be led by a singer,’ said Amanul, also the choreographer of the first dance drama, Battle of Bangladesh, after the Independence.
Eminent dancer Anisul Islam Hero, who studied dance at two universities in India, also criticised the university authorities for appointing Bannya as dance department chair.
‘A specialised department of dance should be headed by a senior dancer and it is the norm at universities around the world,’ he said.
A number of dance department students said that Bannya took class occasionally on music and remained busy with administrative works while three lecturers and some guest teachers taught them kathak, bharat natyam, manipuri, odissi, gaudiya and other dance forms.
‘Senior artistes from other disciplines like theatre and music can be made guest teachers at the dance department as I have found at Indian universities in West Bengal and Delhi,’ Anisul said.
‘Undoubtedly, Bannya is a respected singer. But, by appointing her as chairperson of the dance department, the university authority has put her in a controversial position,’ Anisul said, adding that the university authorities should review its decision.
Dhaka University vice-chancellor AAMS Arefin Siddique said, ‘When we open a department we usually choose someone from our teachers as the chairperson.’
He said, ‘While forming dance department, we appointed our music department teacher Bannya as the chairperson considering her reputation,’ he added.
He hoped that the dance department would move forward under Bannya’s leadership.
Bannya said she gave consent to be the chairperson of the department being requested by the university authorities and following the university rules.
‘I’ll return to music department when the university authorities will order,’ she said.
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