By TILAK S. FERNANDO - Sept 1997

Traditional dance forms of Sri Lanka, developed over twenty five centuries and connected with Ravana, the first great monarch of Sri Lanka, were performed at the Brent Town Hall , Wembley for the first time ( third appearance in Britain) on 31 August 97 by the Sri Lanka State Dance Ensemble making yet another lasting impression in the minds of a cosmopolitan audience during two shows at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The cultural evening, with the combination of an exhibition of paintings on profoundness of Buddhist philosophy by Ven Katuwana Piyananda Thero, was organised by The Sri Lanka Educational, Cultural and Welfare Foundation at Kingsbury, NW London with the sponsorship of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Air Lanka Ltd.

After the traditional observations of lighting of the oil lamp by H.E. The High Commissioner S.K. Wickremesinghe, Mr. George F. Benham, Chief Executive Brent Council, Hon. Barry Gordon Representative Lieutenant London Borough of Brent, Dr. Sena Yakdehige, Mr. Sugath Rajapakse, Manager Air Lanka, London, and Mr. T de Silva, Manager Bank of Ceylon, dancers took to the boards with electrifying, vibrant movement, twirls and somersaults. In addition to quick and masculine movements of the male dancers, the agile body, hand and feet movements of the female dancers with their rhythmical bows were a feat to the watching eye. The co ordination of colours of the dancers attire certainly attracted the audience eye but the act of fire eating ( actually a burning torch going into a human mouth) not only astonished many western spectators but it appeared as a real ' dare-devil' act which kept everyone's mouth open with amazement while their hair on stand !

At a time when Sri Lanka is becoming recognised among the international community with her cricket and athletic superiority, the Sri Lanka Educational Cultural and Welfare Foundation successfully managed to promote the State Dance Ensemble, true ambassadors of Sri Lanka, to the world media of television through BBC and Zee T V networks.

BBC will host the Sri Lankan dancers in their forth coming ' Generation Game' programme and no doubt it will be fun to watch the participants of the game show making desperate attempts to follow the steps of the dancers and imitate the twirls, somersaults and quick body movements to the rhythmical beats of the 'Yak', ' Magul' and Devol Bera. Zee TV will also be telecasting the Wembley show through their world-wide network in the very near future.

The State Dance Ensemble will be performing in Paris this week-end. Following the two shows at Brent Town Hall Educational and Cultural Foundation telephone lines have been buzzing with enquiries and requests for a second show. To comply with such requests & to meet the demand The Foundation has made emergency provisions and preparations. According to a spokesman at the Foundation a final show has been arranged at Kingsabury High School Hall, Princess Avenue, London NW9 on 12 Friday at 8 p.m. on the eve of the dancers return back to Colombo, especially to afford an opportunity for those who missed the shows on 31st.