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Socialism’s blight: Power-crazed ‘leftist’ rulers

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by Kumar David

Socialism mercifully was avant-garde the world-over in the 1960s and up to the mid-1970s, my salad days as undergrad, postgrad and junior lecturer. It was the age of Heroic Che, steadfast Uncle Ho and young Mandela. There would have been others (Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral and Ahmed Ben Bella) but imperialism murdered or deposed them quickly. The sun still shone on anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism and the flame of the welfare-state was not yet extinguished in Europe. This haze also obscured the manic reign of power-crazed Stalin and the by then clinically crazy Mao. Why? They, for reasons more to do with the Cold War than ideology or principle, armed and bankrolled global revolt. Many fights ended in defeat, partial defeat or just faded away (Congo, Algeria, Angola, Mozambique, the Baathist experiment in Iraq-Syria, and Nasser’s Egypt come easily to mind) and ugh, there were grotesque bloodbaths in Indonesia (1965-66) and Chile (1973). On the bright side Vietnam won in April 1975 and Cuba survived and still struggles on. Then, oh then the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe went belly-up in 1989-90, Yugoslavia fragmented (early 1990s) and China retreated in the mid-1970s into a foreign policy sink-hole to lick its wounds, and a little later to repair its Mao-shattered economy. If you stand back and survey these last 80-plus years with eagle-eye, it’s been one helluva roller-coaster ride!

Does the dice seems to be rolling the other way again? Not so fast, the scorecard is still mixed. True the times when liberals – some Trotskyites too – lumped Hitler and Stalin together as two sides of a coin has passed. Ted Grant said Stalinism in its conduct, was Nazism pulverising all social independence but with a statist economy. Material benefits to the underprivileged aside, empirically there is truth to this description. Authoritarianism in China is miles different from Stalinist Russia or the US’s besotted Saudi Arabia and UAE and the material uplift of the populace in the PRC they say is a ‘wonder of the modern world’. On balance nevertheless, the world-over, the hopes of leftists and socialists are nowhere near scoring a walkover victory. One reason is that the far-right (political primitives a la Trump and religious and racial extremists of whom we possess a fair share) are making gains in many places. This, largely, is a consequence of the remarkable failure of liberal-democracy cum capitalism, everywhere, to achieve much; the centre has hollowed out.

But there is another reason why socialism hasn’t got voters cheering widely; the power-drunk greed of nominally left/socialist government leaders who hang on to office at any price. The reply that dictatorships of the right are more frequent and more brutal is not adequate because people’s expectations from the left are different. There are two cases in the cross hairs right now, Venezuela and Nicaragua. That the former, after Chavez, has been an economic disaster is again not the issue because many right-wing regimes in Central and South America are no better. What is execrable is that the Nicolas Maduro dictatorship retains power by breaking up popular demonstrations, imprisoning opposition leaders and playing fast and loose with the judiciary and the Constitution. During the Chavez (died in March 2013) years when oil prices peaked (2011-12) big advances in housing, education and community building were made. True, this was accompanied by imprudent planning and waste, but notwithstanding, the social and political balance sheet was positive. Had Maduro faced an election, and lost, it would have been fine; no successor government could have rolled back the gains of ‘Chavismo’. But as things stand now the inevitable ejection of Maduro at some point will endanger the gains of Venezuelan socialism. Maduro’s greed for power is the grimmest threat to the socialist ‘project’ in Latin America and it is the sharpest anti-left propaganda assault in the continent. Leftist regimes that orchestrate a transition from democracy into dictatorship are a jinx on socialism.

Elections in Nicaragua have just ended and Daniel Ortega has won by a landslide of votes cast – but independent observers estimate the abstention rate as 80 percent! Ortega locked up seven opposition candidates and made it pointless for all except his jingbang to vote. His wife Rosario Murillo has been promoted from vice president to “co-president”. Ortega was elected for a fifth (fourth consecutive) term much to the delight of all who ridicule socialism as the antithesis of democracy. A statement by all 27 EU members accused Ortega of “systematic incarceration, harassment and intimidation” of opponents, journalists and activists. Murillo’s daughter from a previous marriage alleged in 1998 that Ortega “repeatedly raped her from age 11”. Ortega has never spoken publicly on the subject but Ms Murillo, the girl’s mother, has called her daughter a liar and a lunatic. Nevertheless damage has been done. The Nicaraguan economy in contrast to Venezuela is fortunately not in shambles. Thankfully most people describe Ortega as a “former Marxist”; pity nobody does history the favour of cataloguing Maduro as a “never Marxist”.

The story of Soviet Russia is blurred by the passage of time even for those who once knew it all. A recapitulation along the lines of this essay is needed. The real degeneration of the Soviet state into Ted Grant’s “social fascism”, though its origins date to the late 1920s, became stark only in the mid-1930s in the Great Terror, which included the notorious 1936-38 show trials and the murder of all Lenin’s Bolshevik co-leaders. Millions of citizens were sent off to Gulag labour camps or killed. The stage was set by the murder of Politburo member Sergi Kirov in December 1934 by the NKVD on Stalin’s orders as a pretext for the purges. By 1939 Stalin had brought the party into abject submission and terrorised and atomised society into social fascism. A one-man absolute dictatorship prevailed till Stalin died in 1953.

How then to explain the extraordinary economic success of Stalinist Russia after the revolution and its rise to superpower status side by side with America? The first driver of success was the enthusiasm that victories in the revolution and the civil war (1918-1922) engendered and the winning over of the peasantry by Lenin’s far sighted New Economic Policy. For a decade this drove the passion of the people and at that stage in history a state controlled, rigid centrally-planned economy was apposite to the needs of technically backward Russia where no modernisation had occurred for one to two centuries since Peter the Great (lived 1672-1725) and Catherine the Great (lived 1729-1796). [Deng Xiao Ping, in another world and era, adopted a very different method]. Imperialism sought to overthrow the USSR by every stratagem since the revolution (the Western Powers armed and financed the “White Russians” against the fledging Republic on 17 fronts). Hitler’s main objective in WW2 was to cleanse (‘lebensraum’ – living space) European Russia of Slaves to make space for Germanic Aryans; both threats drove the Russian people into Stalin’s arms in the way that the latter day terrorist LTTE become Sinhala chauvinism’s greatest ally. Hence the USSR worked till perhaps 1975-1980. After that its collapse from economic failure, bureaucratisation and universal hatred of the ruthless Stalinist state came quickly in 1989-90. Russia is now, paradoxically, a toothless nuclear power, never heard and hardly seen except when Europe needs gas.

The case of Eastern Europe is different. The post-war world from East Germany to the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia excepted, was a creation of the Red Army. It was in the first instance a buffer to protect the Fatherland from NATO hell-bent on aggression, but secondly it had to be governed and a post-war economy constructed. In both instances the Stalinist model was transplanted; rigid central planning and social fascism. Both were disasters. The early Soviet Union had freshness and creativity, the transplanted and imposed Eastern European version lacked the bloom of vitality. The theme of this essay is democracy hence I emphasise the universally arid party apparatuses and the repertoire of false charges, forced confessions and uninhibited cruelty of torture.

Still there is a paradox that calls for explanation. The Eastern European communist venture includes relative ethnic peace and de facto territorial devolution, the liberation of women, stable state power, economic rationality via limitations in consumption, sensible work-productivity and notable income equity (all were equally poor the cynic will quip). There was political integration within the bloc, albeit under Soviet hegemony and the bloc enjoyed high standing among third-world peoples and governments. To explain this dichotomy would take me too far afield today, except to say that much of it came with the system. What is critical for the purposes of this essay is that when Stalinism crashed there was no retreat possible from Stalinism to social democracy let alone socialism. When Stalinism reached the end of the road and in general when power-crazed “left” leaders are overthrown it is not democratic socialism and a rational society that follows as fond Marxists and hopeful Trots wish. What come next – well you see it in Poland, Hungary and Belarus. Everywhere a right-extremist, neo-Nazi and ultra-religious backlash. The names are familiar; Victor Orban, Alexander Lukashenko, Andrzej Duda, Slovakia’s Robert Fico, Serbia’s Aleksandar Vucic and many elected dictators in Central Asia.

I have arrived at the punch line of this essay. The lesson that the National People’s Power movement in which I am involved, the JVP which supports it and five or six other credible left parties (the Dead-Left is awaiting cremation) must take away from this story is this. Not merely as a game-plan, but a real commitment to democratic socialism must exist. A genuine guarantee of democracy must accompany a popular but flexible economic agenda and choice in lifestyles. We need to make it clear that if, when in power, the left loses an election it will be so-long, adios, sayonara and bye-bye; we will head for the door.



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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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