Sri Lankans in Washington present an outstanding event at the Kennedy Center
Posted on May 17th, 2010

Anjalika

As a part of the Asian American Heritage Month Celebration,  The Asian American Music Society under the leadership of Dr. Mira Yang (President) presented a dance and song program at the George Mason University Center for the Performing Arts on May 6 that included a booth display on Sri Lanka,  followed by a program at the Kennedy Center, Millenium stage on May 7 to showcase Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Bangaladesh dance groups.  The grand finale was a tribute to America.  The performance was broadcast worldwide in streaming video on the Kennedy Center website. The video is archived for future viewers at www.kennedy-center.org – Go to archives for May 7. Both events were attended by the Ambassador for Sri Lanka, Jaliya Wickremasuriya and members of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington.

 A pre-performance reception was sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Center for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (CAPEC), Office of Diversity Programs and Services (ODPS) and the English Language Institute.  The gathering was addressed by Bill Reeder, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at George Mason University and John Paden, Co Directer Center for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.  The Ambassador for Sri Lanka also addressed the gathering.

 The Sri Lankan items included performances by the Sri Lankan Youth Dance Group and the Junior Dance Group.  The dancers were children and youth living in the Washington Metropolitan area who worked relentlessly to put out a performance larger than their youthful years.

 The first of the three Sri Lankan dances was by the Sri Lankan Youth Dance Group choreographed to the melody of “Danno Budunge” that describes the beauty of the city of Anuradhapura. The dancers included Natalia Perera, Amali Perera, Sandali Chandradasa, Fenoli Lowe and Dinali Weeraman.

 The second dance was a delightful item by the junior group that included Dehara Weeraman, Malory Lowe, Sitare Sadeghi, Darya Sadeghi, four adorable little dancers. They enjoyed the festive mood of the traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year when they danced to the melody of “Erabudu Mal” that describes the coming of the New Year festivities.  The little ladies stole the hearts of many in the audience being the youngest performers among all countries. 

 The third dance item performed by the Youth Dance Group depicted the movements of the Peacock. Their splendour was evident in the elaborate costumes and the movements so beautifully choreographed to the sounds of the pecock and its graceful movements.

 The background to the dance items was accompanied by traditional drums from Sri Lanka lead by an outstanding traditional drummer in the Washington community, Himaransi Ranasinghe ably assisted by Stanley Perera, Rama Nangi, Deepti Jayaweera and Samira Wickremasuriya.  They displayed the sounds of the Geta Bera, Thammatam, Thabla and small hand drums.

 The elaborate costume designs are credited to the group of mothers of the dancers that include Manori Weeraman,  Ramani Perera, Roshini Lowe, Wathsala Chandradasa, Kamali Sadeghi.

 As a finale to the program at the Kennedy Center, the dancers of the four countries took the Kennedy Center Stage and paid tribute to their adopted homeland.  “America The Beautiful” was played and sung by Anjalika Silva who also directed the production of the Sri Lankan part of the program with Dr. Mira Yang.

 As a part of the heritage month performances by the Sri Lankans and other countries held on May 6 at the George Mason University, a Sri Lankan display booth was presented by Hemnath De Silva in an extraordinary showcase of the country and the Embassy of Sri Lanka participated by providing promotional material and tea handouts to visitors.

 The performance at the Kennedy Center drew a packed house and was followed by many personal tributes from the audience who stepped up following the performance of the young dancers and musicians.  On that bright sunny spring evening of May 7, by the fountains on the terrace outside the concert hall of one of the most hallowed and prestigious institutions in the world recognized for performing arts, visitors mingled in admiration of what they had seen.  The grandeur of the monument is a tribute to the late Jacqueline Kennedy and her passion for the performing arts. 

 For Sri Lanka it was a day worth remembering.  Sri Lanka was given pride of place on the stage of the Kennedy Center for performing arts by a few who were all volunteers giving up personal time in their dedication to showcase their homeland in the melting pot of America. A great honour for all those who participated.

 To sum it all, here’s an extract from the audience comments placed on the website of the Kennedy Center.

“Absolutely beautiful performance. All groups were entertaining and added the depth to the Friday evening performance. Costumes were extremely elaborate and colorful. Variety was well balanced between the chosen groups.

 Bangladeshi performance stoodout well as their songs were both upbeat and fusionistic.

 Sri Lanka was just outstanding as the groups danced with vibrant deviations. Their costumes moved from being subtle to reflective. Peacock dance costume was gregarious. It closely resembled the Peacock’s body.

 The little ones song was outstanding and upbeat. Additions of these little ones dance, was the perfect blend for the evening. Their style kept us smiling throughout.

 Presence of the Ambassador at the event was a treat and an honor to all of us inthe audience too.

 The lady in red saree playing the keyboards was breath taking in singing an anthem of another country. She showed us all how we should be in solidarity with one another living in the US. Her singing “America the Beautiful” gave me the goose bumps!

 The President of the Asian American Music Society pulled a stunning event in combining the perfect blend of the artists. Thank you all so much for a great evening.”

 May 9, 2010 3:55 AM

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