As a teenager, Chitrasena, the founder of the Dance Co, was inspired by the visit of Rabindranath Tagore’s Indian dance troupe to Sri Lanka in 1934. Tagore stressed the need for a people to discover their own culture to be able to assimilate the best of other cultures. At his father’s insistence, Chitrasena first spent over six years in a Sri Lankan village studying the Kohomba Kankariya dance ritual under one of the great masters.
He then went to study Kathakali dance, first under Sri Gopinath, Court dancer in Travancore and then at the Kerala Kalamandalam. Returning to Sri Lanka, he founded in 1943 his Dance Company.
From 1945 he spent two years studying at Tagore’s Shantiniketan and had the distinction of dancing the lead role of Ananda in Tagore’s dance drama ‘Chandalika’ opposite Candita Kriplan, Tagore’s granddaughter. He represented Shantiniketan at the All India Dance Festival in Delhi, visited numerous dance centres including Uday Shankar’s dance centre in Almora, Assam. He performed in a Shantiniketan show in aid of Tagore’s Memorial fund at the New Empire Theatre in Calcutta.
Chitrasena’s legacy is now continued by the family’s multi-ethnic third generation. Heshma Wignaraja, a granddaughter, is the company’s choreographer, and another granddaughter, Thajithangani, is the principal.female dancer. Heshma and Thaji recently collaborated with India’s famous Odissi Nrityagram Dance Ensemble and performed to wide acclaim to audiences in India, America and Asia.
CVDC comes to the Sydney Festival and to Canberra fresh from successes in India, the Montpellier Dance Festival in France, and New York. The dance-drama they will present here pays homage to the Lord Buddha and to Lord Ganesh. It is auspicious that they are performing Dancing for the Gods on Jan 15 which is Thai Pongal.
Further details in the flyer below, Tickets are available from the Canberra Theatre Centre box office: 02) 6275 2700 or website: Dancing for Gods Tickets. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details.