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.
I was introduced to dance at D.S.Senanayake Vidyalaya where I had my education. At that time my interests were in Athletics, Rugby and Football. I excelled in them and represented my school in these events. In 1986 I began my career in Kandyan Dancing with the school-dancing troop. Our troop won many awards at all Island Dance and Ballet competitions.
A year later in 1987, I had the rare privilege of representing Sri Lanka at the world students’ youth festival in Korea. Since then dancing has become an all encompassing passion to which I found myself devoting more and more of my time, and I was motivated by a burning desire to succeed in my new hobby
In the space of two years, in 1988 my hobby became my profession and I embarked on a career as a professional dancer. A further stint of training at the Heritage Foundation gave me greater exposure and insight into all forms of traditional Sri Lankan dance, and other contemporary form of dance.
I was fortunate to have been taught and influenced by some of Sri Lanka’s prominent dance teachers, among them Mr. Nandana Balasuriya, Mr. S. Welabadage, Mr. K.S.Fernando, Mr. Herath Banda, Mr. Herbert Dayaseela, Mrs. Khema de Costa, Mr. Tony Fernandez and Ms. Niloufer Peiris, who inculcated in me a love for all types of dances.
My ever-growing passion for learning all forms of western and oriental dance and traditional and contemporary indigenous dances created wider horizons for me. It also brought opportunities to perform. I was figured in many dance recitals and performances. To name a few “Khema & Mohan in Dance’’, “Uruma Ranga’’, “Heritage in Dance’’, Shades of Sri Lanka and “Heli Rangara’’- all successful performances which were well received in Sri Lanka and overseas. With success came rapid progress and I was fast acquiring greater skills and a wider repertoire of dances.
Meanwhile I was learning yoga under the guidance of Mrs. Ouida Keuneman. It wasn’t long before I started teaching and has today established myself as a successful teacher of dancing and aerobics. I teach dancing and physical education at the British School in Colombo and work as a Physical trainer and instructor in my own gymnasium and dance studio, which I started in 1998.
My dream of establishing an institution to preserve and promote the Sri Lanka’s traditional dances and rich cultural heritage came into reality with Lak Uruma Arts Foundation in 1999.
Treasurer/Grants Coordinator Anjana Abayarathna
Secretary Nimanthi Wijayaratne
Events Coordinator Chamila Sudusinghe
Costume Coordinator Neluka Fonseka
Web/FB Coordinator Chathura Kariyawasam
Senior Coordinator Deepa Samarasinghe
Kanitu Paada Coordinator Antonat Fernando
LH Coordinator Indika Amaratunga
Committee Member Lisley Pietersz