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Reminiscences of Dangedera village in Galle

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Continued from Saturday

There was a colourful Muslim personality in the village known to all and sundry as ‘Cassim Master’. He was very fluent in Sinhala and could read and write the language perfectly.

When the post of the Charity Commissioner in the Galle Municipal Council fell vacant, he applied for it. But on the morning of the interview, Cassim Master was told by someone in the know, that the post was earmarked for a strong supporter of the Mayor.

An angry Cassim Master decided that he would go for the interview anyway. The interview board comprised the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and the Municipal Commissioner.

In order to test his Sinhala, the Deputy Mayor asked Cassim Master, the Sinhala term for the Galle Municipal Council.

“Galu Naraka Sabhawa?” said Cassim Maser without batting an eye. (Galle Bad Council).

There was an embarrassed silence, with red faces on the interview board.

And what is the Sinhala term for the Mayor of Galle?” asked His Worship the Mayor?

“Galu Narakadhi pathithuma!” replied Cassim Master blandly. (Galle’s Head of Hell!)

S. S. Kulatilake

The retired District Judge S. S. Kulatilake was the first MP and the first Cabinet Minister from this village. He was an appointed MP and the Minister of Cultural Affairs in the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Government in 1970.

In 1977, D.G. (Dangedera Gamage) Albert Silva from this village was elected as the MP for Galle and later nominated as the MP for Kamburupitiya, far removed from Galle.

A. H. E. Fernando and G. Keerthisinghe from this village were Deputy Mayors of Galle.

Sick of the servility of their veteran leaders, the angry young men of Dangedera found in the young lawyer from the village, – Raja Kulatilaka, a charismatic leader who eventually became the Mayor of Galle.

C. Sittampalam, a member of the Cabinet of D. S. Senanayake, chose a Sinhala bride from this village.

The Mahinda College playground is located inside this village on the north-west. It dates back to 1912. For the ordinary villager it was “Pedi Kumbura.”

Some of those who began playing cricket on this field rose to dizzy heights. On the first day of March 1953, W. B. Bennett, keeping wickets for Mahinda College against the Galle Cricket Club, dismissed all the 10 batsmen of the Galle C.C. in one innings. He caught four and stumped six of his victims. It is now a Guinness World Record!

The Amendra brothers of Mahinda College, nine in all, set up a unique record by at least one of them having represented the school cricket team between the years 1951 and 1973. In the year 1957 five of them made up the school first eleven. For six years, the captaincy was held by five of them. Another two of them were vice-captains. No doubt, it is a rare feat. The Guinness Book only pondered.

Captaining the Mahinda College Cricket Team in 1953, Somasiri Ambawatta created history by scoring a century (103 not out) and taking all 10 Richmond College wickets for 34 runs in the first innings, at the big match. It is a record for school cricket big matches.

The Mahinda College playground also produced D. D. Jayasinghe, the first southerner to play for all Ceylon. It was against New Zealand in October 1937.

Veteran Wambeck the Richmondian sportsman and one time all Ceylon Javelin champion lived in “Field View” abutting this playground.

Every Wesak day, Jayan Aiyya organised a Bakthi Geetha Group of younger teenage girls who went from house to house. They were financially rewarded.

Pacha Kira

Kirineris Aiyya was well-known in the village. Behind his back the village pranksters called him “Pacha Kira” (inveterate liar). Sometimes, he boasted of the days of his youth as a local thug. He chanted lay pirith and was also engaged in chanting manthras (incantations) to cure minor ailments with the oil and the thread so charmed.

Once he outwitted the whole village when he structured on the village school grounds, a “Vangagiriya” (a labyrinth) mentioned in the Vessantara Jathika. The villagers lost their way and it was full of fun.

Simon Aiyya was short in stature and knock-kneed. He was always dressed in a pair of shorts. His hobby was collecting used shearing blades.

Upaska Mahattaya was the leader of the lay pirith group.

She was the epitome of the local Sinhala Mrs. Malaprop. Also being wily in nature she was nicknamed “Gundu Jane”.

Abu Carrim Nana ran a grocery in the village registering brisk business. He carried his money inside his fez.

Leslie de Mel was the propagandist of the Russian Communism in the village. He distributed Russian magazines free.

The “Gasyata Barber” visited the village homes. He performed his ritual under a shady tree. As a sideline he posed as an astrologer.

He was “Jacobite”, who was middle-aged and one who spared no monkeys in the village.

The veda ralahamy served the villagers and was not much concerned with material gains.

Merenchina Aaarchi had her vegetable stall in the dilapidated ambalama building at the Dangedera Junction. Every Wesak she organised with her funds a Dansela (distributing alms) in the village.

Dunthel Mudalali in tweed cloth and white coat was a welcome visitor to the village.

The loud voice “Maalu! Maalu!!” of the fisherman carrying the pingo, still rings in my ears. The vegetable basket woman (some of them were the breadwinners of their families), the women with jam bottles full of curd, the breadman with the huge basket on his head, containing bread and varieties of cake and sweetmeats, the hopper and string hopper vendors who used to hawk their wares from door to door, were there.

During the season, the Maldivian traders roamed the village. They sold Maldive fish and the delicacies like Aros, Bondahaluwa and Diyahakuru (a rice puller, all of which had a ready sale.)

The villagers in turn sold their betel leaves, arecanuts, bamboos and some other items to them.

The villagers called the Maldivians “Kallu” or “Yaalu Minihela”, while their boat was called “Hodiyo”. Sometimes, the pranksters of the village would provoke these traders by asking them “Yalu Minihela! Thamange hodiyata kaluballan dakkanne?” (Friends! Are you taking black dogs to your boat?). This reference to black dogs infuriated them and they ran after the fleeing pranksters. There was a Maldivian princess in a bungalow at a land called Diidiswatta.

World War II

At the time of World War Two, a siren was installed at the Miran Maduwa Junction in the village, to warn people of any impending disasters. There were a number of A. R. P. Wardens (Air Raid Precaution Wardens) who had their designation boards in black letters on a yellow background, to maintain law and order in times of distress and disaster. The pranksters in the village interpreted A.R.P. as Aaappa Roti Pittu or Aaachchige Redde Parippu.

Close to the Siren was an impressive projected cannon installed. (It was only a camouflaged arecanut tree stump).

There was a young coconut plucker. All of a sudden, he went missing from the village. After about six months he surfaced wearing an impressive military uniform and roamed the village.

At this time there were 10 cents, and five cents notes. The five cents note had a perforated edge which could separate three cents and two cents. The one cent coin had the legend “King George the VI Emperor of India”, with his picture.

The village school was closed and bags of rice were stocked there. Rice was in short supply at the time. And to supplement it two varieties of cereals known as Ryesina and Bagiri were made available. Our expert female cooks in the village had a major breakthrough when they produced delicious milk Bagiri which become immensely popular.

Dangedera Bakery

The “Dangedera Bakery” was centrally located in the village. It belonged to the Weerapperuma family. During the war, it catered to the needs to the people who in the mornings, lined up in the Indian file, to buy the bakery products. Mrs. Weerapperuma ably managed it and served the people.

Cruising down the Moragoda river, which abutted the village, in an improvised boat was a most enjoyable pastime. In the process, we were able to eat luscious Kirale fruits from the overhanging branches. Bovitiya, Dan Jambu, Guara and Mango were some other fruits we relished. Sometimes a good-hearted villager living on the bank of the river, would give us “kurumba” (young coconuts) to drink.

Kite flying, archery contests with improvised bows and arrows, catapulting, activating kurum batti machines, marble games, rubber seed and eramudu seed games (the larger ermudu seed was called (bootta), shooting with improvised pistols with seed bullets, spinning tops and chuck gudu, etc., were some of the other enjoyable activities we were engaged in.

Sometimes in the evenings we played softball cricket. Menikpura was a deadly bowler while Hamza was the best bat.

Once in a way, I would drop at my neighbour’s house to listen to gramophone music.

With the advent of the Sinhala New Year, the whole village was in a festive mood. The family members all gathered to celebrate it.

The new year table was laid with milk-rice and sweetmeats like kavum, kokis, asmi, athirasa, mung kavun and the inevitable plantains.

After they partake of the first meal of the new year at the auspicious time dressed in new clothes, followed by the money transactions, the children swing on the rope swings strung up on strong tree branches, reciting rhythmically a variety of swing-songs called (varan). One such was:

Some children indulged in the game called (nonada pollada) – tossing coins head or tail.

A young man in the adjoining village had a maintenance case. To avoid it he went abroad. After many years he came back to his village and got married to a girl from Dangedera. The couple was going for their honeymoon and were coming down the steps to a waiting car, when all of a sudden, a woman with a child and some armed thugs, intercepted them, demanding maintenance for the child, and all hell broke loose!

We were children then, when two of us decided to visit our grandmother. When she saw us, she was aghast, as a rabid dog had run berserk in the area. It was a narrow shave.

One day, the village was all agog with the news that the Nayaka Thera of the village temple Jayawardenarama, – Dangedera Panyasara Thera, was due to deliver a sermon over the radio. The village had only a few families having radio sets. But they made arrangements to accommodate the villagers by laying mats in their gardens.

These are some of the fond memories of the village where I was born.



Features

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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