Revitalising children’s ballet

Saturday, 9 July 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Cassandra Mascarenhas

Introduced to dancing at a very young age, Mohan Sudusinghe commenced his career in dance at D.S. Senanayake where he began with Kandyan dancing with the school dancing troop and in 1989, he had the 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 a 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 forms of dance,” he said joining WeekendFT for a chat.

His ever-growing passion for learning all forms of Western and Oriental dance and traditional and contemporary indigenous dances created wider horizons for him and well as more opportunities to perform. His dream of establishing an institution to preserve and promote Sri Lanka’s dances and rich cultural heritage finally came into reality with the establishment of the Lak Uruma Arts Foundation in 1999.

Fortunate enough to be taught and influenced by some of Sri Lanka’s most prominent dance teachers, the dancer has now decided to do his part for the country and give back all of what he has taught by dancing with his students in gratitude to appreciate and pay tribute to the teachers who gave him their best and guided him for over 25 years.

This was achieved by the stellar performances by his troop of dancers who he trains at the British School and himself, at ‘Bakthi Pranama’, an event of Sri Lankan dance and ballet held last month. He was inspired to host this event after realising that traditional Sri Lankan dance was slowly losing prominence within the country in the face of the Hollywood and more so, Bollywood cultures that have swept Sri Lanka in the past couple of decades.

 “Children nowadays do not appreciate the more traditional forms of dance and other contemporary forms, preferring their Indian and Western counterparts and with the immense pressure to do well academically and in the many extra-curricular activities in school nowadays and other influences like television, the internet and so on, dance has lost its prominence amongst the youth,” Sudusinghe explained.

Hoping to further re-vitalize this art, the dancer put all his efforts into the ballet and although he faced many challenges, he finally achieved this with the performances put on by both himself and his students from the British School who blended both traditional and contemporary forms of dance and ballet. Each performance was carefully choreographed to showcase the children’s’ talent, right down to the minimalistic costumes worn by the dancers which showed off their skills and smooth lines of their dances.

Following the great response it received after being held on June 5 and 6 at the Lionel Wendt, Sudusinghe and his troop of dancers will grace the stage once again this month with yet more performances showcasing an infusion of dance and will be held on July 16 at 3.30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Lionel Wendt Theatre.