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President: After you chase us away, why elect us again?

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People: After we chase you away, why come again as candidates?

by Rajan Philips

We are into political education by way of presidential questions and answers. The President is asking the questions and the rest of us are free to provide answers as commoner than commonest of people. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa doesn’t see the point in people re-electing the same politicians whom they have defeated before. He is, therefore, according to a Daily Mirror headline news story, urging voters “to look for new people without electing the same set of people.” He is asking the people not to elect the current opposition parties to be government again because they were a failure in office and were defeated in the elections. He goes further, “Even if myself or the ministers in my government don’t meet your expectations, don’t elect the same set of people. Look for new people. This system has to change.” Then some candour, “I don’t know how it could be done but that is the reality.” And finally, the punchline, “Once you chase us away, again you elect us. What’s the point in that ?”

In an interesting coincidence, President Rajapaksa’s quondam military colleague and current MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka also made an observation last week that “people do not see the SJB as a party which is capable of running a government though they have got fed up with the present government,” and that “around 50 percent of those who supported and voted for SLPP are frustrated today.” Two contrasting political observations from two former military men. The President makes no mention of the dejection in the SLPP ranks, but is asking the voters to “look for new people if they have grown disenchanted with him. The Field Marshal, on the other hand, is not asking the voters to “look for new people,” but he is telling the SJB and Sajith Premadasa that they have to “woo the dejected SLPP members at the grass roots level,” to reinforce the SJB as an alternative contender.

The short answer to the President’s questions is that defeated politicians are not going away after they are defeated. They keep returning. They nominate themselves to be candidates again and the people are presented with the same poor choices. The fault is not with the people, Mr. President, but with the entrenched political system – politicians, political parties and the process of nominating candidates from the topmost presidential slot to the lowliest Pradeshiya Sabha membership. The President should redirect the question to his own party, the SLPP, even though he is still not a member of that party or any party. And he should redirect it to his own family, and ask, “Once the people have chased us away, why are we standing for re-election? “I don’t know how it could be done but that is the reality,” the President acknowledged.

How it can be done

It is not at all difficult to know how it can be done. Just tell his extended family that they have been in politics for over 50 years and in power for over 15 years. It is time to stand down and make way for “new people”. So, don’t contest the next set of elections – from the local government to the president of the Republic. With this simple instruction, the President could change the whole system, and the reality, in one stroke. Once the Rajapaksas voluntarily stand down, Ranil Wickremesinghe and his entourage, and everyone else who have overstayed their welcome span in politics, will have no excuse but to follow suit. Sri Lanka would have been transformed. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will be hailed as a hero and revered in retirement. Whether the retirement is going to be in Colombo or California, it will make no difference.

There are other more structural (if he wouldn’t mind the jargon) ways of doing it. The simplest would be to bar all elected officials from running for a third consecutive term. So, every elected official can serve two consecutive terms and will have to take a break in the next election, but will not be prevented from running again after the break. That will replenish all elected offices every two years, without preventing experienced politicians returning to service after a break.

He could quite immediately put an end to defeated candidates entering parliament abusing the National List system. He could sponsor and implement new rules for National List nominations: make defeated candidates ineligible for National List placements; set firm candidate criteria for National List nominations – say 60% to be female nominees, and requirements for socially, territorially and professionally diverse representation. As well no individual should be eligible to serve more than two terms in total as a National List MP.

Here are questions that the people may want to ask the President. Will he provide for such term limits and criteria for nominating candidates in the new Constitution? Will he facilitate legislation to make the candidate nomination process in all political parties to be open, transparent and include objectively-positive criteria for nomination as candidates? Will these changes be considered in the working of the OCOL (One Country, One Law) Task Force under the leadership of one of Sri Lanka’s most erudite forensic minds? There’s more. What is the point in presidents pardoning criminals, convicted by courts? What is the point in appointing people put away by the courts as Chairmen of statutory bodies and task forces? What is the point, if any, in the Attorney General pre-emptively protecting people who might be put away by courts, by withdrawing indictments?

The President seems to have given up on the highly touted ‘Gama samaga Pilisandara’ (Conversation with the Village) approach and is now making statements and firing questions from public forums. He is addressing the people of Sri Lanka even from far flung forums – at the UN (New York) and at COP26 (Glasgow). In Glasgow, President Rajapaksa tried to show off as his government’s achievements what are in fact controversial actions on the environmental front. Whoever who is advising the President made him miss an opportunity to join forces with Sri Lanka’s South Asian neighbours like Bangladesh, Maldives and Pakistan to push for global support for economically challenged countries undertaking adaptation measures against immediate effects of climate change – unseasonal and heavy rains, floods, drought, heat, wildfires and rising sea level.

Instead, the President took to boasting that his “Government took firm steps to reduce imports of chemical fertilizer, and strongly encourage organic agriculture.” Then he underwhelmed: “Although this action has been broadly appreciated, it has also met with some criticism and resistance. In addition to chemical fertilizer lobby groups, this resistance has come from farmers who have grown accustomed to overusing fertilizer as an easy means of increasing yields. This is particularly unfortunate considering Sri Lanka’s rich agricultural heritage.” This is quite a characterization of the plight of the country’s farmers devastated by the government’s most ill-advised and sudden switch to organic agriculture. Not to mention the soaring food prices and the scare food scarcity. As for Sri Lanka’s rich agricultural heritage, it is useful to keep in mind ancient agricultural heritage cannot feed the 21st century population of even tens of millions in small countries like Sri Lanka.

Parliament & Courts to the rescue

We have no way of knowing what prompted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to shift gears from Gama samaga Pilisandara to the Socratic method of posing probing questions. But it is not difficult to see that the next national elections are already on his mind. He is getting resigned to the possibility that the next one will not be as smooth as the last one. It could be worse. People may not like him and his ministers. He seems equanimous about not being elected. But he is more concerned that people should not elect the opposition parties to be elected to form the next government. He is asking the voters, “look for new people.” ‘New’ as in anyone who is not at all associated with the present government and the last government. Does that mean the Rajapaksa scions are ruled out? That will be really going new.

It tells you something that someone like President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, with no previous background in politics, should be thinking about the next election which is still more than half the term away. The bigger question for the people now is to how to get through life in the next year or two, and what help can they expect from the government and the President. The President telling the voters to “look for new people,” might suggest that he is subliminally giving up on himself. Where will the people then turn to? In the current system of government, with the country collapsing under weight of presidential failure, the people can as a first resort turn for help to the two branches of state, namely, the legislature and the courts. Put another way, it is up to these two branches of the state to rescue the nation. But are they up to it?

In the last few months, the courts have become the last bastion of sanity. Hopefully, they would stay that way for ever and ever. However, while courts can be bold and valiant, they can only step in to reverse bad decisions of the government often after the fact and after much damage has been done. They cannot pro-actively direct a government on matters of policy and execution. That role falls on the shoulders of parliament that includes all of cabinet except its head. The question for parliament, and all its MPS, is whether over the next three years the current parliament can stop being a rubber stamp for the executive. Not so much as a counter to the executive branch, but to contain its excesses and guide its actions. It is a tall ask of the current parliament. But the alternatives to the country are grimmer and worse.

To be clear, parliament cannot perform this containment role with its traditional government/opposition divide. And this divide has not been bridged in any meaningful way even after 40 years of executive presidency. Parliament has not evolved to be compatible with the presidential system in the manner of the US Congress and its system of Committees. That such an evolution would take place in Sri Lanka was certainly the ‘technical’ expectation of President Jayewardene, the architect of the presidential parliamentary system. We learn that from AJ Wilson’s monograph on Sri Lanka’s Gaullist Constitution.

But politically JRJ did everything to scuttle any prospect of a cross-party alliance emerging in parliament to counterbalance the executive presidency. Against his own expectations, the first Executive President began the tradition of subordinating parliament to the executive. He initiated and facilitated the unseemly practice of getting crossovers from opposition to become government ministers. MPs would crossover from the opposition to government to become ministers without losing their opposition party membership (thanks to a misguided Supreme Court ruling in the 20th century). There are no crossovers now mainly because the government has a super majority and doesn’t need any new turncoats.

At the same time, there are ‘eruptions’ within the government and the question is whether there can be alignments between the erupting government MPs and the lackluster opposition MPs on specific issues that are now critical to the country and the people. The idea of alignments on real issues is not to bring down the government as in the old parliamentary system, but to establish a counterbalance to the misfiring executive presidency. In the current situation, the onus might be on those government MPs and Ministers who assembled at Solis Hall as People’s Council, to establish a parliamentary council with cross-party participation and assert the constitutional right of the legislature to counterbalance the executive. As I said, it is a tall ask. The alternatives are worse.



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Beyond the fiction of Alborada

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By Sarath Chandrajeewa

“No matter how much a work of art is sweet, if it hides the truth and disregards humanity it can only be equalled to a beautiful but empty shell that attracts us.” (L.E. Kerbel – Russian Sculptor)

‘Alborada’ is the Spanish word for ‘the dawn’. In 1984, a music group was born in Peru, South America by the same name and they gained immense popularity. Their music mainly spread among people in North and South America. Their music’s foundation was the traditional music of Native Americans who lived in the Andes mountain range (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTD2VDcxvNc). Likewise, in 2005 a soap opera by the same name was broadcast in Mexico, North America, which became very popular. This story was based on a series of events that took place during the historical period when Panama and Mexico were on the verge of gaining freedom from Spain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iM5s_d1vls).

In 2021 Asoka Handagama made a film in Sri Lanka by the same name, Alborada. The protagonist of this film is Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973), the Chilean Consul in Ceylon for two years, from 1929 to 1931. He was very young, only 25, when he was appointed to this post. Ceylon was a colony at the time and he was lodged at No. 56, 42nd street, Wellawatte, Colombo 6, a place close to the sea. He had written down his reminiscences, in his own language, in book form. Later it was translated into English and published under the title ‘Memoirs’. According to this book, he had referred to his house as ‘My solitary bungalow’. It is said that the name Alborada was proposed by Pablo Neruda for the house of his friend, Lionel Wendt (1900 – 1944), who had lived at Guildford Crescent, Colombo 7.

Wendt too was fluent in several languages including English, Spanish and some other European languages. It is apparent, from documents and events that took place at that time, that his house, Alborada, had not been a lonely or tranquil place. It is clear that house Alborada was always full of people, such as painters, dancers, actors, photographers as well as pianists and those who enjoyed music. It was more like a cultural centre where discussions, art critiques and debates took place. (L.C. Van Geyzel, et al. [2000]. ‘Lionel Wendt: A Centennial tribute’. Lionel Wendt memorial fund; Sampath Bandara. [2017]. Lionel Wendt Kalava Saha Jeevithaya, Sarasavi Publication. [Sinhala]).

Though Handagama’s film was titled Alborada, the actual location, where incidents mentioned took place, was the Solitary Bungalow, the Chilean Consul’s official residence (Jamie James. [2019]. ‘Pablo Neruda’s life as a struggling Poet in Sri Lanka: A young poet’s Adventures in the Foreign Service’. Retrieved from https://lithub.com/pablo-nerudas-life-as-a-struggling-poet-in-sri-lanka/). In the 20th Century Sri Lankan context, Alborada was a distinguished active cultural centre. As a Sri Lankan cultural symbol, it directly connects with the character of Lionel Wendt. The creator of a work of art has the total freedom to create his work as he pleases and also to choose whatever name for the particular work. Handagama’s Alborada is similar to a poem, set to inspiring music. It includes a series of artistic figure compositions and features a number of skilled performing artistes. The trailer of Handagama’s film gave me some ideas.

When creating a work of art based on historical events, rather than myth and imaginary incidents, its trustworthiness depends on the people who faced the incident, the actual incidents, exact places, time period and the political and cultural background. Consequently, thorough research is necessary to identify accurate works based on historical incidents. It is difficult to rectify myths or false assumptions ingrained in society by unreliable books, documents, magazines or films. People will always embrace falsity, deception and myth, over the truth. Our culture as well as other cultures are replete with many such examples.

Alborada

‘Alborada’ is the name of Lionel Wendt’s house. It is important as it is the house of a great Sri Lankan cultural icon of the last century. It is also important as Alborada was the name given to the renowned cultural centre of modern history, in Sri Lanka. It is from this place that art activities in our country were taken to the international arena. Alborada was situated at No. 18 old Guildford Crescent. Today this street is called Premasiri Kemadasa Mawatha. Six years after his demise, in 1950 his friend Harold Peiris (1905-1981) demolished his old house, Alborada, and built a gallery and a performing arts centre (Lionel Wendt Art Gallery and Theatre) to commemorate him. It was designed by painter Geoffrey Beling (1907 – 1992), Principal Art Inspector, Department of Education, and Bernard G. Thornley (Manel Fonseka. [1994]. ‘Rediscovering Lionel Wendt, Lionel Wendt Photographs’. Deutsche Bank Colombo and Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund).

When Lionel Wendt was alive, renowned upcountry master dancers, Amunugama Suramba and Nittawela Ukkuwa used to lodge at Alborada with their troupes, when they visited Colombo (Dancer Dr. Vaidyavathi Rajapakse, daughter of Master Dancer Suramba, Personal communication, 2017).

A documentary movie ‘Song of Ceylon’, directed by Basil Wright in 1934, was placed first at the Brussels International film festival in 1935. The creative segments of the movie were organized at Alborada. Manel Fonseka reported in an article, ‘Rediscovering Lionel Wendt’ in 1994, that in an interview with Julia Margaret Cameron, Basil Wright had said this about Lionel Wendt; “I think he was one of the greatest still photographers that ever lived. I should place him among the six best I’ve come across”.

As a result of discussions held at Alborada, master dancers Nittawela Ukkuwa and Amunugama Suramba were taken to England for a recording of drum beats, for the movie ‘Song of Ceylon’. This trip was sponsored by painter Harry Peiris (1904-1988). A dance school was established to develop up-country dance, in Gunnepana, Sirimalwatte, Kandy in the 1920s for Master Suramba, as a result of discussions held among a group led by Wendt and George Keyt (1901-1993). This troupe, which included the group of up-country dancers, Ukkuwa, Nittawela Gunaya, Punchi Gura and Sri Jayana Rajapakse, was later upgraded as the ‘Dance Ensemble of Central Lanka’. Jayana’s coming of age ceremony, inclusive of his ‘Ves ceremony’, held at the Degaldoruwa Rajamaha Viharaya, Kandy, in 1939, and Jayana’s dance training in India later, were all sponsored by Wendt (Dr. Vaidyavathi Rajapakse, Personal communication, 2017).

The first art inspector appointed to Sri Lanka, during the colonial era, was Charles Freegrove Winzer (1886-1940), an Englishman. He became close friends with Wendt, during his tenure in Sri Lanka. In the early years, Winzer and Wendt both wrote reviews on exhibitions of George Keyt, Justin Peiris Deraniyagala (1903-1967) and Geoffrey Beling. Wendt also translated Neruda’s art reviews from Spanish to English and published them (Manel Fonseka.

[1994]. ‘Rediscovering Lionel Wendt, Lionel Wendt Photographs’. Deutsche Bank Colombo and Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund).

The first avant-garde art movement in Sri Lanka, the ’43 Group’, was born under the leadership of Winzer and Wendt. The 43 Group consisted of Wendt (Chief Organizer), painters Harry Peiris (Chief Secretary), George Keyt, J.W.G Beling, Richard Gabriel (1924-2016), Ivan Peiris (1921-1988), Justin Pieris Deraniyagala, George Claessen (1909-1999), Aubrey Collette (1920-1992) and L.T.P Manjusri (1902-1982). The meetings of the 43 group were held at Alborada until Wendt’s death.

Afterwards the meetings were held at the house of Harry Peiris, Sapumal Foundation, Barnes Place (Sarath Chandrajeewa. [2010]. ‘Modern Art in Sri Lanka and its socio-political environment’, Artful resistance: contemporary Art from Sri Lanka, ZKF publishers. Germany).

As mentioned above, Pablo Neruda was only 25 when he was in Sri Lanka as the Chilean Ambassador (1929-1931). At 29, Wendt was four years older. In his book ‘Memoirs’, translated from Spanish into English by Hardie St. Martin, published by Penguin, Neruda had written thus about Wendt, on page 93.

“Little by little the impenetrable crust began to crack open and I struck up a few good friendships. At the same time, I discovered the younger generation, steeped in colonialist culture, who talked only about books just out in England. I found out that the pianist, photographer, critic and cinematographer Lionel Wendt was the central figure of a cultural life torn between the death rattles of the Empire and a human appraisal of the untapped values of Ceylon.

Lionel Wendt, who owned an extensive library and received all the latest books from England, got into the extravagant and generous habit of every week sending to my house, which was a good distance from the city, a cyclist loaded down with a sack of books. Thus, for some time, I read kilometers of English novels, among them the first edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, published privately in Florence” (Memoirs by Pablo Neruda, translated from Spanish by Hardie St. Martin [1997]. Penguin Books).

To be continued

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Politics at its most primitive

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By Uditha Devapriya

Review of Shaveen Bandaranayake’s Groundswell

Sarasavi Publications, 2021, 118 pages, Rs. 300

Half-way into Shaveen Bandaranayake’s novel, the Minister at the heart of the story tells us that the wealth he earned was people, not money. This is what politicians usually say. In the very least, it is what people who dislike politicians imagine they say.

Come to think of it, both amount to the same thing: we’ve turned politicians into objects of hate so much that we’ve come to love them for being who we think they are. Since we can’t control them in real life, we want to dominate them in popular fiction. The number of plays and films that poke fun at Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Ministers testify to how badly we want to be, not like them, but above them.

I am deeply suspicious of satire of that sort. In his excellent review of Pusswedilla, Hafeel Farisz tells us why political parody ends up serving the people and objects being parodied. This is not rocket science. At its best, political satire can move us to anger, disenchantment, and rebellion. At its worst, it can lull us into a sense of complacency with things as they are and as they seem. Farisz seemed to think that Pusswedilla epitomised the latter, reinforcing cultural stereotypes while offering no proper critique of the political establishment and the ruling class. I suppose you can say the same thing of Vijaya Nandasiri’s comedies: at his best, he makes us aware of the corruption of the political class; at his worst, he turns the corrupt into objects of love-hate, full of tropes and clichés but nothing substantive.

Shaveen Bandaranayake’s Groundswell reads as a political satire, though I have my doubts. Interweaving different stories and unfolding like a film, it goes back and forth. I won’t call its ending funny, but then how can any novel involving politics end on a funny note?

What Bandaranayake does in his story, short as it is, is to tell us that nothing good can come out of a system mired as much in corruption as in patronage. Since these people are tied to each other through politics, politics can prove to be their undoing. The way he forays into this theme and explores it, without regurgitating the usual political clichés, puts the novel at a notch or two above what you come across at, say, the Lionel Wendt. Without conforming to crude stereotypes, he attempts to humanise his characters, showing us why connections matter in politics, and why they don’t always work out.

The plot is simple enough. A woman comes across a corpse of a man at the foot of a hill one fine morning. She informs the police. By the looks of it, he seems to have lost his grip and fallen to his death. The story then rewinds to a political rally at that most obtrusive site of political rallies, a temple, where we are introduced to Sarath Aluwihare, a Minister trying to win his next election. We are also introduced to Sunil, a young man endeavouring to land a job. Events will unfold in a way that will bring the two of them together.

We are told that Sarath hails from a family of politicians, and that this family has been in politics for over two generations. The surname tells us as much. Sunil, on the other hand, is so unobtrusive that Shaveen doesn’t grant him the privilege of a surname, which, after all, is the preserve of those who matter. Like other village youths lacking employment and in dire search of a patron from the ruling class, Sunil clearly is not important; even when he finds a job as Aluwihare’s driver, his status rises, but not so much as to protect him from the novel’s ending. He is as destined to his place in life as Aluwihare is to his.

There are other characters though, and they have surnames. There is the head priest of the temple, for instance, an unabashed admirer of Aluwihare who uses him to achieve his not so religious purposes. Then there is Dileepa Jayanetti, who rises “from rags to riches” and ends up becoming the owner of the country’s biggest media house. Dileepa finds his way up by befriending the daughter of another prominent politician, who introduces him to Aluwihare, who in turn becomes his biggest benefactor. You sense the pattern here.

Halfway through the story, Dileepa hires Lasantha Muthukumarana, a journalist who tries to stick to the tenets of his trade. Dileepa does this because he thinks that by hiring the honest, he can keep them from being honest. For someone who is so bright and manipulative, this is far from the most brilliant decision he could have taken: a few pages later, Muthukumarana is investigating a hit-and-run incident which may be connected to Aluwihare.

In Bandaranayake’s world, everyone seems to know everyone else. That is why it comes to no surprise that the man run down by a vehicle in the middle of the night should have been married to a woman Aluwihare just happened to hire at his Ministry, and that she should be rumoured to have formed the object of Aluwihare’s affections. That Lasantha thought for a moment that a news report linking all this to a prominent Minister would make it in a paper linked to and blessed by that Minister is, of course, intriguing. But he tries to get it published it anyway. When the predictable opprobrium follows and he finds he can’t get it in, the story moves to its inevitable and in many ways unsurprising conclusion.

In saying all this, I am by no means revealing the plot. In fact, surprising as it may seem, the plot is what least interests me about Bandaranayake’s novel. This is a narrative I have come across many times, in many forms. Bandaranayake takes great pains to make it all relevant to the immediate political situation, i.e. the one we are in, now. Those who manage to draw links between his characters and their “real-life counterparts” should, therefore, be forgiven for thinking that he has attempted political critique masquerading as satire. My interest in it, then, has less to do with the novel than the genre it belongs to.

If Groundswell can be called a satire, it is satirical only to the extent that his characters are caricatures. Yet, as I implied earlier, it is not a satire in the way that a work like Pusswedilla is. The characters fit into preconceived and familiar patterns, but that doesn’t make them the clichéd tropes they turn into elsewhere. These characters are more rounded, certainly more complex. Sarath Aluwihare, for instance, does not possess the overstuffed tummy his counterparts from countless parodies do, while Sunil doesn’t become a Renfield type figure hell bent on catering to his “Master.” Even though Bandaranayake can be facetious, and is pugnacious, he refuses to dabble in the kind of satirical humour which could have turned his story into a Vijaya Nandasiri style parody of politics in Sri Lanka.

Depending on how you view it, this may be the strongest point or the biggest weakness in Bandaranayake’s novel. Groundswell makes several important points, and they should be considered pertinent whether they be couched the language of satire or of serious political critique. The medium is hardly the message, contrary to what people might say, and the way you communicate your ideas should not really impact the importance of those ideas.

And yet, there are one or two episodes which reveal Bandaranayake’s funny side. It is here that the disjuncture between the satirical undertones and the ponderous overtones of the narrative, and the author’s voice, proves fatal to the development of the story.

Bandaranayake is at his best when he is setting up situations, and these situations are, all things considered, effective in setting up the plot. He tries to create atmosphere, and does a good job of laying the context. But when each and every point is prefaced by laboriously long explanations of social phenomena, such as the separation between temple and State in Sri Lanka, or the wretched fate encountered by a million or so menial workers in West Asia, you struggle to distinguish between the narrative and the commentary.

For local readers, these explanations will at best be passé. I suspect they will be for foreign readers as well. Groundswell is a novel, or more correctly a novella, which could have been shorter, tighter, and more effective without them. Not surprisingly, the story gains strength when Bandaranayake cuts to the chase, and loses track when he does not.

I have read this kind of story many times before. What makes this one interesting is that it is Bandaranayake’s first attempt at fiction, and that, for a first attempt, it’s damn good. Even within its limits, he has come up with something enjoyable. That I enjoyed the book, and of course the brilliant illustrations that more than just decorate it*, is why I wish it were leaner, shorter, and tighter. Less can be more. More often than not, it is.

* With one exception: the eighth drawing depicts a scene that, if you think about it carefully, is at odds with the text on the opposite page.

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com

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Thirty two little ballerinas win awards at TBSC’s 2021 prize giving

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Text and pictures by
PRIYAN DE SILVA

Thirty two little ballerinas were presented with certificates of achievements and awards at the 2021 prize giving of The Ballet school of Colombo (TBSC) held recently.

Directors of TBSC Tara Cooke and Romina Gyi said that they were extremely proud of the achievements of their charges and thanked the students and parents for their dedication in attending classes diligently despite the trying conditions.

Certificates of achievement were awarded in the baby ballet, junior ballet and intermediate ballet categories to students who excelled in pre-classical and pre-jazz ballet.

Debbie McRitchie, International Director of the Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing (to which TBSC is affiliated), in her congratulatory message thanked the parents for investing in their childrens dance education and the teachers of TBSC for preparing the candidates. She said that dance is like life and is a journey but not a destination and encouraged all stakeholders to work harder.

The prize giving was a proud moment for both students and parents as it was a parent who presented the certificates of achievement to their child. Five-year-old Shenaya de Alwis Samarasinghe was the youngest candidate at the prize giving, passing with honours in pre-classical ballet.

The Ballet School of Colombo was the former ‘Oosha Garten Sschool of Ballet’ pioneered by the late Kalasuri Oosha Saravanamuttu-Wijesinghe and was instituted as the ‘The Ballet School of Colombo’ in 2016.

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