Maduwanthie Dance Performance
by Tilak S. Fernando in London

‘Maduwanthie Dance Performance’ held on 2 November 2002 at the Acton Town Hall West London, can be regarded as a success in achieving Sathsara Institute’s aim of upholding and propagating centuries old Sri Lankan culture and tradition in the form of oriental dance and music.

The factors which contributed to make this show a flawless performance were mainly the agility of dance movements of the students of the institute, rhythmic drum beats, colourful and conspicuous costumes, new conceptual adaptations and a specially selected and rare musicality which penetrated the heart, soul and the mind of a packed audience.

Out of the nineteen listed programmes, Pooja or Mangalam, Gajaga, Thala Sankalana, Naga Raksa, Gemi, Suhada Maatra and Udarata, Phatarata and Sabaragamuwa dances distinctively penetrated to the audience both in quality and special adaptations made by Maestro Somarathna Pathiraja. The students who took part in the show comprised of a full cross section of the Sri Lanakan expatriate community in London - from little ‘babies’ as old as five years old.

Beating all records and prevalent norms in London Sathsara Art Institute adopted a new policy of exhibiting their commitment and dedication to Sri Lankan culture in Britain by making the occasion a free of charge show with an added bonus of a glossy souvenour/programme .

Sathsara Art Institute allocating space to all the students to introduce themselves in their own words in the Maduwanthie souvenir was another a new concept which can act as a catalyst to those potential and enthusiastic students and Sri Lankan parents who are keen in Sri Lankan aesthetics. In doing so Chamila Dolewatte, Shalini Wijeratne, Pumanjali Nanayakkara, Dinushi Wijesekera, Tania Dilrukshi and Leigh-Anna Chaturi Rezel, Mali Hettiarachchi, Sandali Nirosha Kumar and Chandali Manisha Kumari Weerasinghe, Tissa and Asanka Weeratunge, Nishanthi Weeratunge, Ranga Sirimanne, Rasheena Madawala had expressed their own versions on Sri Lankan culture.

Nimal Prematilaka, Manjula Upasena, Leelaratne Nanayakkara, Tilak Udayabandara, Nalaka Herath, Chanka Singalaxana, who are experienced dancers in London, appeared as guest performers while Nishanthi Weeratunge, a research scientist, did a solo guest performance (Thala Sankalana) and a heart rendering act (Shuddha Maathra) with Maestro Somaratna Pathiraja.

Maestro Somaratne Pathiraja and his team, both on stage as well as who were behind the scenes, need to be congratulated on the tireless hard work and their undying dedication that had gone to bring such an arduous performance to a flawless performance.

If ‘facts are sacred and the comment is free’ Sathsara Art Institute qualifies to have some constructive criticism made on some of their weak areas for their own future benefits. Although these may be regarded as teething problems of a ‘cultural baby’ stage management needs improving – ensuring that announcements are made when the performers are really ready. As much as timing of a performance to a maximum of 2 hours is vital it is disadvantages to mix video promotional shows during interval which only will only eat into the audience time. It is customary to ensure that the Chief Guest, after all a prominent personality, is well received and ushered in a formal manner and not to be seen him lost somewhere in the middle of the hall. The lighting of the lamp ceremony is also a prominent Sri Lankan custom with adequate lighting and announcements, aided by an official on the spot, which was slightly overlooked to some extent ! On the technical side sound system, which is most vital in any show, was of very high standard.