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Dayani Gonsalkorale

The Sri Lankan Dance Academy is a voluntary organization dedicated to preserving ancient traditional dance forms, and nurturing the modern dancing arts, of Sri Lanka. Our driving ambitions are to share Sri Lanka’s rich dance culture with the New Zealand public and to foster an interest in Sri Lankan dance for our children growing up in New Zealand.

Dayani Gonsalkorale, the president of the Academy, formed a Sri Lankan dance group with few children and their parents in 1975. From Dayani’s education in dance we are fortunate to be able to draw on her experience of learning under the tutelage of pioneers of Sri Lankan dance – Chitrasena, Panibharatha and Sujatha Jayawardene at Visakha Vidyalaya. In the 1990’s Chalanka Athalage joined the Academy, bringing with him his vast dancing experience, which has enabled us to bring our performances to a higher level.

The Academy seeks to preserve traditional dance forms such as Kandyan and Low Country. However, we are also looking to the future of Sri Lankan dance in developing modern Sri Lankan ballet.

Since the 1970’s and to this day, we have participated in numerous events and functions – from providing floor-show entertainment for private functions to participating in community festivals and events such as the Wellington City Council ‘Feet with Heat’ dance event and the annual Dawali festival. In recent years, we have produced our own dance recital show – a major two hour production showing off the talents of our enthusiastic students and featuring visiting artists from Sri Lanka.
While most of our resources – teaching hours, creation of costumes and props etc – are given freely, there are considerable expenses associated with the running of dance lessons, bringing to life our dance production and obtaining authentic costumes directly from Sri Lanka. The main source of our funding is parent-driven fund-raising projects - participation in numerous food fairs, for example.

We also have received generous support of the Wellington City Council, the Lotteries Commission and community organisations such as the United Sri Lanka Association.

Another annual fund-raiser is the Academy’s Film event (Ridee Thirayen : Sri Lankan films in Wellington). For the past 5 years, we have presented a Sri Lankan feature film for audiences in Wellington to enjoy. With Sri Lankan culinary delights on offer at intermission, this event is both a fun and challenging event to stage. What started out as a one-off fund-raising project has now become a much anticipated annual event on the Sri Lankan cultural calendar.
The untiring efforts of the parents of our students and other volunteers are a wonderful example of community spirit - their many contributions have included: bringing the children to rehearsals, assisting with the design and production of costumes, volunteering their services in our fundraising efforts and promoting our shows.

It has been our privilege to direct this vibrant and dynamic academy of enthusiastic students and volunteers. We look forward to many more years of preserving, developing and sharing Sri Lanka’s rich dance culture.