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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2253

“Ragavi Ragum”: a kaleidoscope of exotic professionalism:Professional dance group Sigiri Lalanavo lives up to its name

By a Special Correspondent

Washington, 10 March, ( Sigiri Lalanavo. The name conjures images of beautiful and alluring maidens, with grace and charm.

Seated in the darkness of the auditorium at the Rockville Civic Center in Maryland, on March 1, 2008, basking in a program of Kandyan and Bharatanatyam dancing titled “Ragavi Ragum” by a talented group of professional Sri Lankan dancers, Sigiri Lalanavo, one could truly appreciate the images evoked by the name. Tall, shapely females in brilliant, colorful, tantalizing attire, mesmerized the audience with their lithe movements and professional stance. The supple movement of arms and legs to the hypnotic drumbeat and music, the joy emanating from the sparkling gaze and captivating smile, all added up to one thing – professional dance performed with deep passion and an almost tangible nostalgia for Sri Lanka.

was indeed a feast for the eye, an exotic kaleidoscope of color on stage and in costume. The dancers made a graceful entrance, walking up the aisle with the lighted lamps and smiles of welcome for the audience. Following the welcome dance, the Chief Guest, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in the U.S., Bernard Goonetilleke, addressed the gathering. Said the Ambassador, “In these modern times, where generations of young Sri Lankans are growing up away from their motherland, it is heartening to see the creativity and enthusiasm of the likes of Sigiri Lalanavo, valiantly trying to nourish and preserve the Sri Lankan dance and to share its richness and beauty, with other cultures.”

True enough, dance after dance followed in smooth succession, with captivating costumes enhanced by stage lighting. The audience was literally spellbound by the Sri Lankan classical dance styles, some blended with Bharathanatyam dancing that infused an aura of originality and freshness to the program, especially the blending of Sri Lankan and Irish backpacker dancing styles.

Sigiri Lalanavo, once known as the Sri Lanka Youth Dance Group in Washington DC, have come a long way since their initiation into promoting Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage in the U.S. Devika Wimalkantha Maduwantha, and her sisters Manoja and Nadika Wimalkantha, also Tharanie Amarawardana, Eshani Weeramunda, Shakila Balasooriya, Achala Malalasekera, Dilini de Silva and Chanika Dampagedon, comprise this group of professional dancers who grew up with a feel for cultural heritage, under the astute guidance of Mr. Dias Amarawardana, former President of the Sri Lanka Ranga Kala Kavaya in Washington DC. Director and Choreographer of Sigiri Lalanavo, Devika, says, “The Sigiri Lalanavo group was trained and nurtured into precision under my guidance, for the sole purpose of uplifting our rich culture and the flamboyant style in Sri Lanka’s performing arts.” Their Bharathanatyam guru, Ms. Rani David, who also spoke at the event, described her enjoyment of the evening’s performance as akin to rejoicing at grandchildren’s achievements.

An Honored Guest at the performance, one of Sri Lanka’s most popular film stars of yesteryear, Ms. Malini Fonseka, graced the occasion with her quiet, yet arresting presence, and gave away awards presented to various individuals, by the group.

What the audience was left with, at the end of the evening, was a glowing feeling of pride in the young adults on stage, and the perception that this was but the first step in a thrilling journey of professional dancing for Sigiri Lalanavo.

- Asian Tribune-

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