PROFESSIONAL FINESSE AND EXQUISITE STYLE
OF SRI LANKAN DANCE THRILL US AUDIENCES
Sri Lanka’s State Dance Ensemble performs in
The beat of the drum was irresistible, the
cadence exquisite, almost hypnotic. The fluid movements of traditional
dance mesmerized the audience.
This was the hallmark of the performances
of Sri Lanka’s State Dance Ensemble in Washington DC,
as they launched their U.S. tour by performing in the country’s
capital in honor of Sri Lanka’s 60th Anniversary of Independence.
Prior to their performance at Sri Lanka’s 60th Anniversary
of Independence celebrations, the Ensemble presented an awe-inspiring
performance at the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center in
Washington DC, and a public show in Maryland, all of which drew
wide applause and appreciation from the audience. The show at
the Kennedy Center drew massive crowds who were awe-struck by
the magnificence of the performance.
The State Dance Ensemble comprises thirty members,
fourteen of who are in Washington DC, led by Artistic Director
and Choreographer, Ravibandhu Vidyapathy, who hails from a renowned
family of traditional performing and visual artists.
As Ravibandhu says, he took up the challenge
of adapting traditional dancing to suit the modern stage, contemporary
lighting set up and the concept of modern costumes, while keeping
the traditional motifs intact, enhancing the exotic aura of
the mystic East.
With traditional Sri Lankan dancing not having
music tradition, the drums play a critical role in moving the
dance along. The professional finesse of the State Dance Ensemble
drummers clearly thrilled the untutored audiences in Washington
DC, as the repetitive rhythm rose and fell in unfailing accuracy,
leading to a thunderous climax, then to fade away in soft drum
The dancers led their way onto the stage, heralded
by Perahera and Magul Bera, which gave way to the elaborate
and masculine form of the Kanyan Dance with colorful masks.
The Naga Gurulu mask dance which depicted the rivalry between
the cobra and the eagle was accompanied by ominous drum beats,
which then turned sensuous to fit the slow movement of the peacock
in the Mayura Vannama. The Getabera, a drum dance manifesting
the intricacies of traditional rhythms and the Samooha Bera,
a spectacular orchestration of different types of traditional
Sri Lankan drums, nearly drove the audiences wild. The ‘Thelme’,
a highly acrobatic dance in the low country style, complete
with exotic, colorful costume, added a fascinating dash of ritual
to the performance.
The male dancers included Ravibandhu Vidyapathy,
Upul Bandara, Matotage Hemachandra, Chaminda Mahawatta, Nilantha
Karunarathne and Manoj Shivantha. The female dancers comprised
Tanuja Dilhani, Dulani Vajiramala, Harini Peiris, Sujani Malithi
and Nayana Kumudini. The Master Drummers included Prasanna Rupathilaka,
Udayapriya Kumara and Saman Kumara. The troupe Manager was Lakshman
Perera, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
The Dance Ensemble’s visit to the U.S. was made possible
by the generosity of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, which
spent a significant portion of its budget on the visit. Following
the performances in Washington DC, the Ensemble will perform
in Minnesota, and proceed to Canada, where they are due to perform
in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Montreal.
The State Dance Ensemble did indeed do their
country proud, displaying Sri Lanka’s magnificent cultural
heritage with professional finesse and exquisite style.
here for the Performance Video
Embassy of Sri Lanka
03 February 2008